If you head on over to Larry Stark's Theater Mirror, you'll see a post of an email that's going around the Boston theater community like a virus, in which we find out that MIT has cracked down on unauthorized use of MIT classrooms at Building 36 (the Fairchild Building) at 50 Vassar Street. Go ahead, go to Theater Mirror and read it, then come back.
Back? Great. Here's some background.
50 Vassar Street is-- or was until Monday-- the open secret of the Boston low/no-budget theater community. On any given night of the week you'll find classrooms where some theater organization is holding an audition, a rehearsal, or a meeting. The place is huge, heated, and free. If you've ever done a show in this town the chances are high that you could walk in on a weeknight and see somebody else you've done a show with walking in the hall. The posts in the lobby are usually covered with notes telling people where to go-- "HAMLET AUDS. 134-56", "BFL REHEARSAL THIRD FLOOR", and so on. And this has been going on for...
Well, let me put it this way. I auditioned for an improv troupe at Vassar Street.
In February of 1992.
And in 1992, it was already the place to go to rehearse, so it's not unrealistic to say that for close to 20 years, a sizable portion of the Boston theater scene has been regularly using that building for rehearsal space. There was always a tacit understanding, of course, that we weren't entitled to it. That if a group of students showed up, you had to vacate the room because of course they were supposed to be there and you weren't. (This applied even if an MIT student or alum was in your show/troupe, because even if that was the case no theater group that I know of had ever bothered to formally request the use of the room.)
That understanding was violated recently when a non-MIT group-- or so I understand-- threatened an MIT group that had properly scheduled use of a given room and showed up to use it. And being threatened, they called the MIT police.
And so ends nearly 20 years of Boston theater history, rightly or wrongly (because let's face it, it's been 20 years of squatting) because one righteous ass decided that he/she was entitled to something they were borrowing.