The Royal Bakery Building near Meredith College will soon house Sonorous Road.
Prospects for the region’s independent theater scene look brighter today, after Sonorous Road Productions announced that it would relocate to a new facility on Hillsborough Street in June. The news follows a span of uncertainty about Sonorous Road's fate after the building it currently occupies on Oberlin Road was sold.
After months of searching and negotiations, the theater and filmmaking concern signed a five-year lease Thursday morning on a space in the Royal Bakery Building at 3801 Hillsborough Street, across from Meredith College.
“It was the biggest relief,” artistic director Michelle Murray Wells said. “We’ve been under so much pressure trying to find a new space over the past three months.”
As we previously reported
, the company was forced to find new headquarters after N.C. State University announced plans in November to buy its current building on Oberlin Road. Had it been unable to find another location, the group would have been forced to close in May.
The potential closing threatened a company that has offered production services, classes, and an intimate venue for filmmaking and theater since May 2015, while distinguishing itself in notable independent productions of works including Belleville
. Its closure would have jeopardized a group of itinerant theater companies whose productions it often hosts, particularly after the December closing of Durham’s Common Ground Theatre, another popular venue for itinerant troupes. Given the lack of affordable rehearsal and staging spaces, John Honeycutt, cofounder of South Stream Productions, said in a December interview that Sonorous Road's closing could have put his company out of business.
The 4,400-square-foot venue, in a 1942 Art Deco building that was redeveloped in 1999, “is definitely an upgrade,” Wells says. “It’s a nicer building with taller ceilings, beautiful brick walls and windows.” Plans for the new space include a ninety-nine-seat theater and an artists’ cafe in the lobby.
With the new lease signed, the company’s next challenge is to raise the $70,000 needed to upfit the facility with soundproof walls, theatrical curtains, lights, and flooring. On Thursday night, Sonorous Road launched a two-week Kickstarter campaign
to cover the first $10,000 of relocation expenses, with further fundraising events in the works. “People have been coming out of the woodwork to encourage us to go forward,” Wells says. “We’re grateful, and we’re going to rely on them for support.”
The company plans to open the new facility June 1.