The Drama Bookshop
Most people from my neck of the woods prefer driving to the city. I love the bus. What’s not to love: it stops a block away from my house and in 45 minutes it brings me to Times Square. And so much can be accomplished on the ride: I can catch up on my sleep or reading, do bills, paperwork, answer mail, make a new playlist, watch a movie, finish a post, plan Thanksgiving… Yes, occasionally I get a man-spreader or a phone addict who mistakes the bus for her kitchen but it doesn’t happen that often and, over the years, I’ve learned to deal with that. Plus, a few of my accidental seat mates became my good friends.
This corner — West 40th & 8th — has been my gateway to the city since forever. It is across the street from the south wing of Port Authority. This place is basically my other home: I know all the bathrooms, food establishments and how fast they serve and what they have that I can sneak on the bus to enjoy the ride even more. From here, I walk to exhale’s various locations, do my Garment district rounds, Muji is close by, so are 7, N, and F trains, so is Theater District. It’s 15 min walk to Tom’s office if I need a hug. Everything starts here! To say I’ve been on this corner hundreds of times is to say nothing. I have never noticed this — until today.
The purpose of my trip was actually to get a few things at Mood Fabrics to finish Charlotte’s prom dress. Usually, this is the corner I fly by on my way to the next destination. Not today. Over the weekend, I made a good progress with the dress, my timing and that of the bus were excellent and I felt relaxed. Although I love book stores, I generally avoid them because no matter how hard I try, the bill weighs the excitement down. The weather was fine, the doors were open, and the smell of books was stronger than me. I wish I’d noticed this place sooner! What a personality this place has!
This is a bookstore for those who love theater. There are books on acting, film, collections of monologues, full plays, books on costume design, on writing, books and CDs with tips on various accents, librettos of Broadway musicals. There is a fantastic section of used books. Rumor has it, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote here his “In the Heights.” It’s a great place to sit and read in salvaged authentic theater seats, eavesdrop on interesting conversations, or talk to a knowledgeable friendly staff. This is so much more enticing than what shining commerce of Barnes & Noble has to offer or even that of dusty Strand.
Apparently, this store opened in 1917 and last year it celebrated its 100th anniversary. It is one of the oldest book stores in the city if not the oldest one. In 2011, this store received a Tony Award for Excellence in Theater. On this exact corner, it has been for more than 17 years. How’s that I’ve never seen it before?
Birthday wishes from fans and customers on the 100th anniversary are pinned to the backs of the bookshelves.
In the basement, there’s a small theatre with a rehearsal space and upstairs there are places where actors, directors, producers get together to discuss projects they are working on. A minute ago, a group of them just left this table. It was so exciting to be around them, I wanted to join but had nothing to say.
Such an orderly calm in the midst of Midtown madness and a block away from the craze of Times Square. I wish I’d found it earlier! But everything is just beginning and I’ll be back.