Survey: The Gate Theatre aka Tambellini's Gate

Posted August 05, 2010 by Anonymous
Part 1.
Year Founded: 
1b. Primary activity[ies] of the organization.: 
moveie thatre for avante -garde, experimental films and performance space
1c. Organization's annual budget.: 
$0 - $50,000
1b. Primary activity[ies] of the organization.: 
Part 2.
2a. Mission Statement: 
to have a theatre that would show experimental, avant-garde, underground films and make the theatre available to any group looking to perform or entertain and audience
2b. Organization History / Organizational Overview. Index of important events in organization's history.: 
The Gate Theatre opened with a protest. As the Press Release of that event states on September 13, 1966, “The New Visions Festival, an unexpurgated and controversial series of American Underground films will be the initial venture of The Gate Theatre starting Thursday, September 15. It will be a protest of Lincoln Center’s indifference to the wide variety of American Film-makers, their forms of expression and ideological content…….has initiated this festival as a rejoinder to Lincoln’s Center’s alarmingly superficial representation of American independent filmmakers. Many of the works which will be shown in the festival were deemed unsuitable by Lincoln Center because of their erotic, political or stylistic content. In addition, the Gate’s directors feel they are fully and honestly representing American Avant-garde cinema today…Among the works presented at the New Vision Festival will be two special Mixed-Media Events, BLACKROUND by Aldo Tambellini and QUATRIPTYCH by Jose Rodriguez-Soltero, an evening of Stan Brakhage who refused to contribute to the Lincoln Center’s Festival in protest of their callous handling of the filmmakers’ art, SCOTCH TAPE by Jack Smith, NIGHT CRAWLERS by Peter Goldman, “HOLD ME WHILE I AM NAKED and SINS OF THE FLESHPOIDS by George and Michael Kuchar, two world premiers, MAN OUTSIDE by Joseph Marzano and 12-12-42 by Bernard Stone, BROTHEL by Bill Vehr, FLEMING FALOON by George Landow and UPRIGHT L.A. IS BURNING, SHIT by Ben Van Meter.” So, on September 16, 1966, Elsa and Aldo Tambellini opened the 200 seat Gate Theatre on 2nd Avenue and 10th Street, a building whose sign is still carved in the entrance as a Presbyterian Tabernacle Church. The Gate Theatre was the only theatre to show avant-garde, underground films in continuous showing, till midnight, seven days a week. The theatre charged $ 1.50 admission. The Gate was dubbed the “Radical Underground in Film” and its programs became part of what was labeled “The Angry Arts in Underground Film.” We advertised our weekly programs on the “The Village Voice” and “The New York Times.” The outside of the theatre had a flag which I designed with the word Gate inside of a black circle. Our wall marquis held huge Photostats of the programs. We displayed photographs of artistic events as well as poems on the walls in the lobby. Young and old, educated and uneducated flocked to the Gate Theatre. We were trying to expose the general public to a type of film which was usually reserved for a small and more sophisticated audience; as well as, supporting up-and-coming filmmakers who had a difficult time finding a theatre that would risk showing their features because they were not established. The above has been reprinted form "Captured, A film and video history of the lower east side," Clayton Patterson, Seven Stories Press, New York, NY 2005
2c. Exhibition / Programming / Publishing History.: 
At The Gate, we premiered Brian De Palma’s first full length feature. I remember De Palma’s 16mm film being shown in the theatre while he personally was projecting his trailer with an 8 mm projector on the glass of the front door of The Gate. One of the early shows at the Gate was Robert Downey’s first feature, “Chafed Elbows.” It starred his wife who came often to my theatre holding a baby who grew up to be Bob Downey Jr. of Hollywood fame. Downey’s film was shown in a double billing with “Scorpio Rising” by Kenneth Anger. This program ran for over a month. We were showing Jack Smith’s feature film, “No President” when a funny incident happened. We usually hired young students as projectionists from the New York University who would sit and study and periodically attended to the film. Jack Smith, who was also in the projection booth, was changing his mind about the editing and wanted to re-edit the film when the projectionist was changing reels. This re-editing caused a major problem in the projection booth and a major disruption with the projectionist threatening to quit. Jack ran down the stairs screaming as he ran out of the theatre, “I am going to kill the projectionist! I am going to kill him!” I ran to the projection booth and pacified the young projectionist excusing Jack Smith’s actions describing him as a very good but difficult artist who needed our understanding. An example of a typical special, sold-out program which we had at The Gate was “Psychedelia Tune In.” This program brought Dr. Ralph Metzner, Chief Associate of Dr. Timothy Leary, on stage with a discussion “Psychedelic No-Art.” Richard Aldcroft, also, presented his Infinity Machine which had been featured on the cover of Life Magazine, 1966 issue. The rest of the program included the screening of experimental films by: Jud Yalkut, Bruce Conner and my first film “Black Is.” Dan Sullivan, in the October 29, 1966 review for the “New York Times” entitled “Gate Theatre Screens a Psychedelicate Subject” calls “Black Is,” “the most interesting…a dazzling succession of black-on-white and white-on black splotches, dots, zig-zags and starbursts painted directly on the film…suggested that action painting might have found, in film, a home that suits it far better than canvas ever did.” A rare movie event occurred when we projected the rare and seldom seen “Salome’.” An older Russian dancer Alla Nazimova, starred in a film as the young Salome’. Natacha Rambova (later the wife of Rudolph Valentino) patterned the set and costumes after the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations. The Elder and Spiritual Leader of the Hare Krishna who had brought the movement to the Lower East Side had his gathering place in a storefront near The Gate. He came to ask me if he could have an evening at the theatre. There, he conducted their rituals which included chants, dances and songs. Typically, each program at the Gate Theatre which changed weekly consisted of an hour and a half of a compilation of individual short films. Often we challenged the Censorship Laws with erotic shows, one of them called “Erotica Neuratica.” Very often we showed the films of: Stan Brakhage, Robert Breer, Bruce Conner, Maya Deren, Ed Emshwiller, the Kuchar brothers and others, as well as having my films. George Kuchar asked me to take a minor role in one of his films playing a rapist who was raping a woman in the upstairs’ Gate bathroom. As he filmed, he was on top of the water fountain, broke it and water started to come gushing out running down the stairway just 15 minutes before the theatre was due to open. We quickly mopped the floor and tried to repair the damage; but, in all of this, we could not find George Kushar who felt so badly about what happened that he hid away form the action. Many of the films came from the West Coast; but, also we had several programs of Japanese underground. Taka Imura, a Japanese experimental film-maker, whose films we often showed was our contact to Japan and many times brought us the Japanese underground films. He also brought the American underground to Japan, including several of my films which were shown at the Sogetsu Arts Center, Tokyo. On the weekends, the theatre became the home of the Theatre of the Ridiculous, directed by Charles Ludlam which performed there between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Their plays were parodies and most of their female parts were played by men. Some of the members of the cast included: Mario Montez, Black-Eye Susan and Jack Smith who had a fight with the cast and separated from the company. They were presenting such outrageous plays as: “When Queens Collide,” “Dracula” and “Grant Hotel” to name a few. They attracted a faithful large audience. One evening, I saw a delegation of Diplomats from the Indian Embassy enter the theatre. Men and women were dressed in their national garbs, all looking very proper and formal. They sat to watch what they thought to be a serious play. The Theatre of the Ridiculous was putting on a play called “Indira Gandhi’s Secret Desire.” The guys in drag were bad enough to shock the new audience who sat motionless but the culminating blow came when an actor came out sporting a 3 feet stuffed penis. “Our lives held many struggles, controversies and harassments for those of us on the fringes of a society.” Elsa in her article for “Arts Canada” described that kind of artistic life steeped in problems: “One is never sure when subject matter (political or social) revolutions in artistic form and structure, will place everything in a state of jeopardy….Sometimes rather subtly, there is a rash of city inspectors and policemen who think they can find some technical way to close the doors…At other times, war is openly declared.” Battles with the various departments at the city became a common occurrence. The above has been reprinted form "Captured, A film and video history of the lower east side," Clayton Patterson, Seven Stories Press, New York, NY 2005
Part 3.
3a. Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals:: 
Aldo Tambellini
Additional Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals: 
Elsa Tambellini
3b. Could any of these individuals assist in providing an oral history of your organization?: 
Part 4.
4a. Is organization currently active?: 
4b. Year activity suspended if no longer active.: 
Organization Still Active
Part 5.
5a. Type of organization at its founding.: 
Part 6.
6a. Does the organization have an archive?: 
6c. Other threats to the organization:: 
Are there other threats to your organization? Please describe below.
Part 7.
7a. How important is to the organization to preserve the organization’s historical material. From 1 – Very Important to 5 – Not Important.: 
1. Very Important
7b. Has planning for the preservation and documentation of archive begun?: 
7c. Does the organization know how and where to seek expertise and assistance?: 
7d. Does the organization have specific concerns regarding starting an archive working with its historic materials?: 
Technical Support / Expertise
Part 8.
8a. Is the organization's archives in the collection of another institution or promised to one?: 
8a. Location: 
IF YES to 8: University (Name)
8b. Archival materials are also located at:: 
Where are these locations?: 
Where are these locations? [I.E. Home / Office of Private Individual(s) (i.e. Former Board, Staff, Funders, etc)]
Part 9.
9. Does the organization maintain archives for any other organization.: 
The Black Gate Group Center Communicationsphere Aldo Tambellini’s personal archive
Part 10a.
10a. Is the archive accessible to scholars, curators or researchers?: 
Part 10b.
10b. Are there conditions of access for scholars, curators or researchers?: 
Part 11.
The following questions address the historical materials (type, quantity and storage) of the organization. 11a. Paper Files and Documents: 
Artist Files
Exhibition or Production Files
Financial Records
Legal Documents
By-laws / Incorporation Documents
11b. Artwork and Documentation: 
Prints / Lithographs / Etchings / Screenprints / etc.
Other Artwork
11c. Press and Promotional Materials: 
Announcements, Mailing Cards, etc.
Newspaper / Magazine / Media Clippings
Posters / Flyers
Other Press or Promotional Materials:
11d. Printed Publications: 
Checklists / Performance Programs / Price Lists
Programs of Events
Other Printed Publications
Part 12.
12. What years does the materials cover?: 
Part 13.
13a. How is the material stored?: 
Other Boxes
13b. Are some or all of these storage units “archival”?: 
Part 14.
14a. Estimated Number of Boxes or Milk-Crate Sized Storage Units: 
1 - 10
14b. Estimated Number of Archive Drawers: 
14c. Estimated Number of Archive Notebooks: 
14d. Estimated the total Linear Feet. ["Linear Feet" is standard measure of the quantity of archival materials on the basis of shelf space occupied or the length of drawers in vertical files or the thickness of horizontally filed materials. For example, a: 
1 - 10
Part 15.
15. Is the historical materials - or archives - inventoried or catalogued in any way, either formally or otherwise?: 
Part 16 / Electronic Files & Archival Management
16f. Does the organization have a back-up program, or back-up schedule, for its electronic records and perform monitoring of its removable media (i.e. floppies, ZIP disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, portable hard drives, etc.)?: 
We do not have any electronic files
16g. Who is responsible for working with the archival material?: 
Part-Time Archivist
Please describe: 
anna salamone consoli unpaid volunteer
Part 17.
17. How are new materials processed?: 
Manual System (Card File, File Folders)
Part 18.
18. What, if any, conservation methods are in place for both physical materials and electronic data?: 
Controlled Access
Fireproof Building / Fireproof Room
Part 19.
19. What type of climate-controls are present in the area[s] in which the archives are stored?: 
Standard office heating / air conditioning / humidity controls running 24 hours / 7 days
Part 20.
20a. What are the goals for the historical materials for the next year?: 
finish archiving
20b. What are the biggest challenges to reaching these short-term goals?: 
20c. What goals are in place for the historical materials for the next three to five years?: 
to place them in archives with a museum or organization
20d. What are the biggest challenges to reaching these long term goals?: 
20e. Are there any additional goals for the organizations historic materials?: 
Part 21.
21. Estimated cost to achieve these archival goals for the next year.: 
$1,001 - $2,000
Part 22.
22. Estimated cost to achieve these archival goals for the next five years.: 
$7,001 - $10,000
Part 24.
24. What archival issues could / should visual arts organizations address collectively in the next three to five years? Ranked from 1 (highest priority) to 5 (lowest priority).24a. Shared standards / protocols for digitization: 
Promote professional standards / protocols for digitization
Part 25.
25a. Is the organization a member of, or in contact with, any organizations concerned with archival issues?: 
Part 26.
26. Additional information, comments, observations, and questions.: 
The Gate Theatre was an important place for through its inclusive philosophy, it provided many young, underground film-makers the space and audience for their works. Many big names premiered at the Gate Theatre. The idea was new and it worked for 7 days a week continous shoing. The records of this organization, with extensive files and pictures need to be preserved as a bit of the alternative history of that era.
Anna Salamone Consoli
Who executed this survey.: 
Anna Salamone consoli
Is this survey complete and all appropriate questions answered?: