A new entertainment complex on Magazine Street has hit a snag in its rollout. While initial reception of the immersive theater production space and bat at 1152 Magazine was warm, some residents have turned on the project ahead of a City Council vote allowing the venue to keep moving forward.
The Hotbed Music Hall is a venue/restaurant and bar that will host “The Fallen Saint,” an immersive theater project that will transport audiences to an approximation of Jazz Age New Orleans. When we spoke to Proximity Entertainment, the creators of “The Fallen Saint,” they promised smaller crowds than could potentially fit into the space as a means of providing a better show. (The smaller a crowd in an interactive theater piece, the greater the odds of interaction between an actor and an audience member.) In order to make sure that attendees walked away dazzled, they said they wanted to limit the shows to less than 300 people. A group of neighbors who live around the proposed venue, however, say that this was a “bait and switch.”
On a recently launched website, opponents of the venue say that the show is merely a means to put a massive entertainment complex in an area of town where parking is limited.
Jennie Willink of Proximity Entertainment tells Very Local that the showrunners have sent a letter to the Lower Magazine Neighbors group that created the website.
“We wanted to give Mr. William Monaghan and the Lower Magazine Neighbors an opportunity to discontinue and correct this campaign,” Willink said, claiming that the website was rife with false accusations. “The most serious of these claims connects Proximity to [the immersive ‘Macbeth’ adaptation] ‘Sleep No More.’ I (as a freelancer, not as Proximity) oversaw the construction of a 5,000 sq. ft. space in the 100,000 sq. ft. space that is also the home of ‘Sleep No More.’ But I did not work for the show.”
The website attempts to link the producers of “The Fallen Saint” with “Sleep No More” so that they can disparage both. The website links to stories about sexual harassment of actors in “Sleep No More” by audience members who are made anonymous by the masks the New York-based show asks them to wear. Willink’s work was for the McKittrick Hotel, the space that hosts “Sleep No More,” but her project was not a part of the show and it wasn’t done along with her Proximity Entertainment team.
“I’m confident that the truth will prevail and that City Council will make the right decision. Proximity Entertainment has been, and remains, committed to a transparent process for its business launch in New Orleans to operating a vibrant and safe venue for entertainment. We have welcomed the city’s process and honest discussion with the community to express concerns,” she said. “Bottom line, we look forward to being good neighbors and a positive part of the community for many years to come.”
The site remains live and the issue will come before City Council on September 6.