Evergreen Theatre

53 E. 11th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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SOHO

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1964 as an off-Broadway playhouse, known as the Renata Theatre. The owner Ozgur Zurer lived in an apartment above the theatre. It had simple clean lines in the auditorium, which is set back somewhat behind a long narrow lobbly.

In 1967, it was purchased by Grove Street Press and renamed Evergreen Theatre. In 1968, it switched to presenting art movies, premiering a number of significant and often provocative films. In June of 1968 it was in it’s fifth week of Andy Warhol’s “I, A Man” shown along with an underground newsreel. It was best known for its co-premiere of “I Am Curious, Yellow” (which also co-premiered at the Cinema Rendevous). By 1971, it had reverted to live shows. but before long it had been renamed Sobo Theatre and was showing gay porno films.

In 1976, the building was sold to the New York City Baha'i community and was converted into a house of worship, which has remained ever since. The auditorium was eventually named for John Birks ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie. Regular services are open to all, as are frequent concerts and other live performances that take place there.

Contributed by RobertR, David A. Litterer

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 7, 2005 at 2:05 pm

I seem to remember an Evergreen Films distributorship from this period, theatrical and non-theatrical, specializing in off-beat product…associated with Evergreen Books, perhaps.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on June 7, 2005 at 5:08 pm

The 162 seat Evergreen started showing movies in early 1968 with FINNEGAN’S WAKE as an outlet for Grove Press Releases. It had previously run plays as the Renata. Its claim to fame was the opening of I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW) along with Cinema Rendezvous and it offered mail order reserved seats. The film played on and off for over a year. By 1970 Grove Press also moved into the Bleecker Street and temporarily renamed that the Evergreen Bleecker as well. It was caught up in a three cinema obscenity trial for showing the film CENSORSHIP IN DENMARK and by 1971 had reverted to live shows.

RobertR
RobertR on July 8, 2005 at 4:45 pm

In the early 70’s this was running gay porn as the Sobo Theatre
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AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 10, 2006 at 1:16 pm

The premiere reserved seat venue for I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW) is now a church???

I just did a spit take all over my computer!

Astyanax
Astyanax on May 12, 2006 at 10:24 am

In keeping with “Yellow”, the Evergreen also showcased Godard’s Weekend. The theater was almost too intimate for that film.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

Apparently it was the SOHO for a few months before it became the SOBO.

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