Society Hill Playhouse to close in April

After more than half a century, the Society Hill Playhouse will close its doors permanently on April 1, according to an announcement released Thursday by cofounder Deen Kogan.

The playhouse, located at 507 8th Street, was founded in 1959 by Jay and Deen Kogan in the former David Garrick Hall. The two had met as Temple students, were married in 1950, and after earning advanced degrees in theater, returned to Philadelphia, where they became part of the local theater scene.

They purchased the old Garrick Hall for a reported $10,000. After a year of renovation, its first production, a stage adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Deadly Game, hit the boards on Oct. 27, 1960. The theater has sought to balance the appeal of public theater with a steady schedule of premieres. So while plays like Nunsense and Lafferty's Wake ran for years there, the theater also put on works by modern masters such as Jean Paul Sarte, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, and Bertolt Brecht. Among the house's premiere productions were Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade and Brecht's Mother Courage and The Threepenny Opera. Many performers and technicians were trained on the playhouse's stages. Jay Kogan died in 1993. Reports had circulated for months of the playhouse's imminent closing, and of developer interest in the property.

Events are scheduled through March 5 in the first-floor Red Room Cabaret. An indoor yard sale will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 13, and a "Goodbye Party" at 7 p.m. on March 25 at the playhouse.

The announcement also invited "any organization interested in lighting equipment or theatre seats" to contact the playhouse. Information: societyhillplayhouse @gmail.com.

jt@phillynews.com
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