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Teatro Zinzanni: Dinner and a show in a tent
Teatro Zinzanni: Dinner and a show in a tent
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Teatro ZinZanni (dinner and a show in a tent) disappeared in August. "They folded their tent and went home?" No, they folded their tent and moved it to a new location! For the last three months, construction has been going on at a furious pace to get ready for a fresh opening of a new show on November 28. The tent is back up on Mercer St. at 3rd Ave N.

"So, it's a tent. What's taking so long to put up a tent?" Well, they're building state of the art modular outer buildings for areas like the kitchen, box office, lobby, and back stage. They look very permanent. There are concrete footings and lots of big trucks. However, ZinZanni is staying true to its esthetic - movable theater. Once these outer buildings are finished, the buildings will be able to be taken apart and ported to a new site.

ZinZanni only has a lease on this new location for four years. While leases can be extended, they decided to take a long view of their needs and desires and make a technological leap to invest in creating an infrastructure that can be taken along. If they do need to move, they won't need to find a site with a building to house their kitchen, etc. They can bring it all with them.

Teatro ZinZanni actually started with the first tent at this very location. They opened in 1998, not knowing if the concept would work. It's a cabaret, a circus, a dinner theater, an interactive audience integrator. They sold out the whole 14 months they stayed in Seattle, before moving the tent to San Francisco. It has been successful there, as well, and they were able to locate a second, beautiful "spiegeltent" to bring to Seattle. In 2002, they were able to reopen at 6th and Battery, the old Cadillac dealership. That land has now been sold.

This has been the opportunity to create a modular self-sufficiency. Steve Quinn, the Site Development Manager, proudly showed off "green" construction successes: the reuses of carpet, reusing five large HVAC units weighing multiple tons, and construction materials that will never be seen, but are made of greener materials. He is conscious of minimizing waste in so many areas. They are taking pride in keeping the construction dumpster as empty as possible.

The future beckons. Now they have a model for creating the same kind of movable dinner/theater experience somewhere like New York, if they rent another tent. In the meantime, the excitement builds as November 28th looms and the new show, with Disco Diva Thelma Houston at the helm, readies for the first visitors to walk through the new lobby, and Tom Douglas, top Seattle chef and restaurant entrepreneur, creates a new 5 course menu.

For more information, go to www.zinzanni.org or call (206) 802-0015. For more details on what they have been constructing and to see pictures as it progresses, go to the blog at http://teatrozinzanniseattle.wordpress.com.
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