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Time and Space Limited: Bringing London and New York to Hudsonby Anya Raskin

I’ll be the first to admit it—I can’t really pinpoint what Time & Space Limited (TSL) is. At first glance, it’s a theater with gallery space in a warehouse. Outside, the warehouse has colorful murals announcing a whole lineup of diverse and interesting activities —youth programs, independent films and documentaries, Time to Talk lecture series, and opera Live in HD from the Met. One particularly full mural reads “Art, theater, live music, and performance” and at the bottom, in all caps “COMMUNITY.”

This, to me, seems to be the crux of it all. TSL’s calendar is full of events, most of which are independent movies you can’t see anywhere else between Albany and Rhinebeck. But what the movies are a part of, unlike a traditional movie theater, is ultimately a larger vision for what that elusive term—community—might be. TSL puts art back into the center of a positive approach to community development, and proposes a different way of looking at art, not just as a means of expression and a representation of beauty, but as the key that can unlock the door to hope, self-expression, and empowerment that can build a community based on participation and inspiration.

TSL’s largest new initiative is about access. After all, even small communities like ours want and need to have access to world-class art. How else do we unlock the incredible potential in our own community? Large, urban centers such as New York City and London offer arts and theater scenes that are far beyond the means of most who live in Hudson. A trip to the Metropolitan Opera House is a luxury few can take, much more so for London’s prestigious National Theater, which showcases the world’s premier talents on a world-class stage. Hudson is a small town, and we couldn’t expect to attract stars like Renee Fleming, John Irving, or Helen Mirren—that is, until now.

It started in 2006 with the screening of four operas from the Metropolitan Opera House Live in HD, with the program a resounding success, for both the Met and TSL. Three years later, the Live in HD opera program at TSL has taken on a life of its own. Ticket sales have skyrocketed, the number of screenings has tripled, and it has become a destination for opera fans new and old, becoming a cornerstone of TSL’s line-up. It brings an entirely different segment of the community into the space, gives TSL a way to bring classical music and the grandeur of opera to Hudson, and is a chance for a lot of people who might never see or even want to see opera a taste of what they’re missing. How about Bizet’s Carmen to start off with in January? Or Verdi’s Aida—the Met’s grandest production, this October and early November? You might just fall in love.

Live performances are broadcast via satellite to the newest and highest-quality HD projection and sound systems at TSL. The broadcasts are recorded in-house on the HD equipment and then played back at Encore screenings, with the potential for adding additional screenings as events sell out—TSL is, after all, local and flexible. Over the years, the quality has only gotten better. This spring, TSL installed two new satellite dishes on the roof. Bigger, better, and rounder, these babies beam the highest quality image and sound into the TSL theater.

The huge success of the Met’s program, pioneered by General Manager Peter Gelb, has spawned an incredible number of spin-offs. Almost all of America’s top opera houses broadcast their productions live, though none with as far a reach as the Met’s. And now, it’s not just operas that TSL is screening live. This year London’s National Theater premiered its NT Live programming (sponsored by Travelex) with the screening of four plays, opening with a stunning production of Racine’s Phèdre, starring Helen Mirren. Coming up next is Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well on October 1, with encore October 4. NT Live has already proven to be a huge success both at TSL and internationally.

Satellite broadcasting is also expanding the potential for people in rural and small urban areas to see world-class art. On October 28, TSL will be premiering a third Satellite broadcasting program, entirely different from the first two. Acclaimed author John Irving (The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules) will be the first cultural icon to be interviewed for TimesTalks Live, the live broadcast of the hugely successful TimesTalks series. TimesTalks Live will broadcast interviews with world-famous cultural figures to theaters across the US, with cozy and conversational one-on-one interviews conducted by award-winning New York Times journalists. It’s a fun way to get to know your favorite writers, artists, actors, and political figures.

This new approach to sharing a performance would no doubt have interested famed “media theorist” Marshall McLuhan; his notion of a “global village” is a reality here in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Where else can you attend the Metropolitan Opera, the National Theater of London, and the Times Center all within walking distance, and pay just a fraction of the cost for orchestra seating with binoculars that know just when to do a close-up or zoom out and pan across the stage? Where can you see Stephen King (who will be on TimesTalks Live on November 10th) chatting as if he’s in your living room, or hear Karita Mattila as Tosca as clearly as if she were singing to you alone? And how else can you easily convince your friends, your children, your parents, or your neighbors to check out opera or world-class theater without breaking the bank and driving for hours?

At its root, TSL is striving to encourage everyone to go to the theater, to see art, and to let it inspire them and their community. TSL strives to make art so accessible that it touches those who’ve never even heard of Shakespeare or Puccini, and those who don’t really care that they haven’t. At its core mission, TSL believes that art and theater really can be the key to hope and empowerment, and that it is through art that we can touch and inspire individual imagination and community participation.

Please see or call 518.822.8448 for dates and times for screenings of Under Our Skin, The Horse Boy, and Against the Current (with filmmaker Peter Callahan on October 10), and the three operas in October and early November—Tosca, Aida and Turandot, as well as premiering TimesTalks Live with John Irving, October 28.

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