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Set Shop and Shared Rehearsal Space in LIC Caters to Indie Theater Groups

The Sand Box Kickstarter
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The Sand Box

LONG ISLAND CITY — A new rental space in Queens is looking to give the city's indie-theater community a place to practice — and to build.

The Sand Box, which opened in December at 44-02 11th St., aims to be a one-stop shop for small theater and film companies that are pressed for space.

Located on the fifth floor of an industrial building, there is a rehearsal room as well as a "scene shop," equipped with tools and worktables so groups can build sets and props in the same place they practice.

"There aren't very many places you can go and build something if you're a small theater company," said Sandy Yaklin, manager of The Sand Box. She explained that many companies end up hurriedly trying to build their sets in the theaters where they perform, usually in a short time span before the show opens.

A set designer who works with indie theater group Gideon Productions, Yaklin said she got the idea for the Sand Box while hunting for her own building space, a daunting task in a city where real estate is so expensive.

Gideon Productions had recently joined forces with two other groups, Boomerang Theatre Company and Flux Theatre Ensemble, to collectively rent space at Long Island City's The Secret Theatre. Inspired by this idea of resource-sharing, Yaklin thought the same approach could apply to a rehearsal and set-building site.

The three groups, along with the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company, now share The Sand Box space and are renting out the rehearsal room to other groups for just $10 an hour, while the scene shop is available for $75 a day. Yaklin said her goal is the keep the rates as low as possible.

"To provide the space for the theater community at the lowest cost that we can feasibly," she said.

She has further plans to soon expand on the theme of resource-sharing, and recently received a grant from The LIT Fund to launch a website, called the Shared Independent Theater List, where theater companies and artists can sell, rent or give away their set pieces and props instead of throwing them away after a show.

While The Sand Box is already up and running with tools and equipment, Yaklin recently launched a Kickstarter page to raise money for further upgrades, including additional tools and storage space for the scene shop, plus cushioned flooring for the rehearsal room so actors can practice fight scenes and choreography.

The Kickstarter launched just last week but is already close to its $4,998 target, which Yaklin attributes to the support of the close-knit theater community, and a testament to the need for a place like The Sand Box.

"The project is something that will benefit a lot of the people that are donating," she said.

Those interested in learning more about renting The Sand Box can email Yaklin at badsandyprod@gmail.com.