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Sound, Lights, Action: 20 years in Hudson & the show
goes on at TSL
by Karen Keats

The sound of divas and tenors from the Metropolitan Opera often fill the air at Time & Space Limited. But depending on what time or day you walk through the double red doors at 434 Columbia Street in Hudson, New York, you can also hear any number of other sounds: the pounding of hammers and the electric whir of circular saws as the front porch is repaired, young voices projecting Shakespeare as a new show goes up, the hum and clatter of metal tubing, tin cans and found objects, as Linda Mussman sculpts and hacksaws another new light/art fixture, a piano playing along with the eerie twang of a singing saw and the mesmerizing singing voices of Claudia Bruce and guest artist Ryder Cooley, as they rehearse for another performance.

For the past two decades in Hudson, Time & Space Limited has been home to sound, lights and action as founders Linda and Claudia have slowly, yet surely, renovated the old bakery one section at a time, one projector at a time, one program at a time. And as they celebrate their 20th anniversary this year, they show no sign of letting up. They both are quick to credit the hard work and dedication of staff and the host of special friends, members, businesses, and foundations who put their trust and funds behind the TSL idea, making all these accomplishments possible.

It has never been easy, but it has never been boring, either.

Linda Mussmann founded the original Time & Space Limited in 1973 in New York City, with Claudia Bruce joining as co-director in 1976. Originally housed in a storefront in Chelsea, TSL’s mission was to create theatre that critiqued the status quo in art and politics, theatre that envisioned new ways of seeing and thinking. But in 1991, TSL felt obliged to refuse a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that mandated an anti-obscenity pledge. This funding loss, combined with rising costs in the City, led TSL to consider relocating upstate. When Claudia and Linda first walked into Hudson’s old Grossman bakery building in the early 1990’s, they knew it was a dream come true, finding an art space that could—and would—be ever evolving.

With theatre as the foundation, Linda and Claudia created new, original shows for Time & Space Limited each year, starting up a youth theatre and presenting new art programming for kids. They both saw the opportunity to use art, advocacy and open communication to participate in and enrich the community, while helping to inspire positive change, and encourage dialogue across divisions of class, color, gender and ethnicity. Adding a range of programming that included cinema, an art gallery, topical discussions, and in-depth youth programs, Linda and Claudia expanded TSL into a flourishing organization that now functions as both artistic innovator and community resource, while also enjoying the expanded personal art space to play and create in: Linda for her painting and sculpture, Claudia for her music.

TSL movie nights have come a very long way from the start, when you had to bring your own cushion to soften the hard wooden pews. Today there are now 100 seats in the theater and the pews have been replaced with comfortable red plush movie chairs. The theater boasts a 16’ x 9’ screen, a state of the art projector, 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and two satellites which enable the streaming of live HD performances including the National Theatre of London, Prairie Home Companion and NPR’s This American Life. In 2010, TSL began its fifth year of broadcasting The Met Opera: Live in HD, adding further great choices along with the continuing rotation of choice new independent movies, classics and documentaries, all digitally delivered.

Big hits at TSL this past year included Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Valentino, and the Academy Awards’ Oscar Shorts. TSL also maintains a delightful café during screenings, with sandwiches and light lunches provided by Divine Catering, teas and desserts by Verdigris and coffee from Hudson’s own local coffee roaster, Strongtree. And during the summer months, they bring the movies outside to you, open air: for the third season TSL, in association with the PARC Foundation and the City of Hudson, screened free outdoor movies in Pocket Park on Warren Street.

Beginning in 2009, an additional dream became a reality—thanks to an appropriations grant by then-Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand—with the official opening of TSL’s new Youth Space: a dedicated space established to house and facilitate ongoing projects developed for Hudson’s young people. During the summer of 2010, TSL offered a program titled “Community Build” for children aged seven to ten in the new space, with the concept “if they can build it, it exists.” The children constructed an imaginary community with houses, stores, streets, trees, a zoo, a chocolate shop, a train station and more. “The project is about using their imaginations and their hands to create something real and tactile,” says Linda; “I think it’s important that adults have a role in children’s worlds.” That was her experience growing up on a farm in Indiana: “ I spent a lot of time in my father’s wonderfully chaotic garage workshop, learning how to make things.”

Each year, true to their mission, Linda and Claudia present at least one new original theatre piece. In 2010, Mussmann/Bruce Productions brought War &Peace: thoughts and notes to the stage, an innovative new play written with inspiration from Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace by Linda; with Claudia and Ryder Cooley as the actors, “readers,” and musicians—playing accordion, piano, guitar, ukulele, drums, and bugles—who guide the audience. In another original piece, Making Macbeth Work, Linda organized a group of young people, aged 17 to 22, in exploring Shakespeare’s Macbeth, from a non-conventional point of view, concluding with a final stunning performance by two young actresses, Amanda Roberts and Nellie Rustick.

Even though the recent “Big Barn BBQ” party was this past August, the 20th anniversary celebration hasn’t stopped yet. At TSL, the doors are still open to all, and new ideas, special events, programs and surprises keep coming through. One such special event is the community mural project led by artist Ryder Cooley, who, with help, has turned the former site of the TSL Youth Center into a three dimensional mural. This project is an opportunity for anyone interested to contribute to the public art being created in the community. (If interested, please see the website below.)

Meanwhile, Linda and Claudia keep moving forward with programming for Time and Space Limited, with actual time and space becoming limited, barely pausing to catch their breath. At TSL, the art continues and the show always goes on.



Visit Time & Space Limited (TSL) at 434 Columbia Street, Hudson, www.timeandspace.org 518.822.8448. For more information on the community mural project contact rydercooley@yahoo.com.



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