Since Profiles Theatre abruptly closed its doors nearly a month ago, six days after the Reader published its investigation of alleged abuse and misconduct within the theater, there has been much speculation about the fate of the space on North Broadway in Buena Park. On Monday, Pride Films and Plays, an LGBTQ-focused company, announced it would be taking over the lease.
“It happened really quickly,” says David Zak, Pride’s executive director.
After Profiles closed, says Zak, he sent Profiles co-artistic director Joe Jahraus an e-mail telling him he should be proud of the work the theater had done. A few days later, he says, Jahraus wrote back to ask if Zak was interested in looking at the space and taking over the lease.
“We looked at the space,” Zak says. “I asked financial questions. I ran it past our board. The board spent some time crunching numbers over the weekend, and then came back and said they could make it work. I was scared because it happened so fast—over two weeks.”
The space includes two theaters, one seating 50 and the other seating 90. Pride plans to use the larger space, now known as the Broadway, for its own productions and film screenings, and rent out the smaller space, the Buena, to other theater companies. “We’ve already had lots of calls from various theaters looking for space,” Zak says. “We want to be a creative playground for all genders and types.”
Pride, which was established in 2010, specializes in new work with LGBTQ themes; it produces plays, films, and staged readings, and sponsors workshops, writing contests, and film festivals. Until now, it’s been renting space from other theaters around town. The company’s first show in the new space will open in January; between now and then, Zak says, Pride will be renovating and cleaning the space.
Until 2009, Zak was artistic director of Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, a financially-troubled company that, according to accounts by several theater professionals at the time, failed to pay its contributors. After Zak left Bailiwick, he spent a year working in South Korea, which he describes as a “palate cleanser,” before starting up Pride with a few collaborators. “It’s a totally different thing,” he says. In 2015, Pride reported revenues of $193,000.
Before the theater was occupied by Profiles, it was home to National Pastime Theater. Its basement, Zak says, is filled with old costumes and props and bits of scenery. “There six or 7,000 square feet of stuff,” he says, “really interesting things theaters collect over the years. A person with a lot of time should take inventory. That person is not me.”
Correction: David Zak spoke to Joe Jahraus, not Darrell Cox.