Not far from ODU, there’s Venue 35th Street in Norfolk, which was once home to a blooming string of locally owned businesses.
However, in the last foot of 2012, not much is still left. But along with a few of the other shops, the Venue on 35th has pumped life back into the surrounding community.
The building was founded by Patti Wray and Lucy White in 2007 and its goal is to play an integral role in the revitalization of the Park Place community by bringing in the arts, and through first class redevelopment of formerly depressed properties, according to their official website.
Mostly known for its theater life, the Venue captures a variety of dramas. Throughout the holiday season, several plays will be performed such as “Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone” and local poet and actor, D.D. Delaney’s, rendition of “Charles Dickson’s A Christmas Carol,” where he plays every character himself. Tickets for these shows range between $8 to $15.
Every Monday night, the stage doubles as an outlet for Hampton Road’s locals to gather, spectate and showcase their talents. Although there’s a $2 charge to get in, most of the regulars that come agree that it’s well worth the money.
The reason for the charge is because the venue is not a business and doesn’t have any other form of income. The small fees go towards paying the venue’s utility bills.
“For the community at large, [the venue] serves as a sort of ‘Church of the Arts’ where all views and opinions are accepted and people can truly be themselves in a world where being an individual is not always conforming to the status quo,” said Jorge Mendez, host of the weekly open mics.
Mendez is also known to perform poetry from time to time. “This is the most diverse open mic in Hampton Roads,” he said.
The venue’s acts include singers, guitarist, poets, actors, rappers, comedians and sometimes, magicians and dancers.
“Most of the regulars are like family and always make the new people feel like family also. We try to foster an atmosphere where anyone can feel comfortable getting on stage and doing and saying whatever they feel,” said Mendez.
For upcoming events, visit their website at venue-35.com.
By: Kadeem Porter