Pocket Sandwich Theatre, which has called a Mockingbird Lane shopping center home for more than 30 years, is being forced to move after the center's landlord has refused to renew their lease, the Dallas theater group says.
According to a Pocket Sandwich news release, the complex — Mockingbird Central Plaza, at 5400 E. Mockingbird Ln. — was sold in 2020 while the theater, like all other arts groups, was struggling to survive amid the pandemic.
After meeting with the new owners, Pocket Sandwich personnel were told that the theater did not fit with the new owners' vision for the shopping center and would need to vacate their corner space on the first floor of the complex at the end of their lease in December 2021, the release says.
Pocket Sandwich Theatre was born out of the friendship of Joe Dickinson and Rodney Dobbs, who met in 1977 while working at Dallas Repertory Theatre, and started producing plays in 1980 at the Greenville Avenue Pocket Sandwich Shop under the auspices of The Emporium Players. After buying out that shop's owners, they renamed the place the Greenville Avenue Pocket Sandwich Theatre.
They moved to their current location in 1990, dropping the “Greenville Avenue” from the name to become, simply, the Pocket Sandwich Theatre.
Pocket Sandwich is known for producing a variety of shows, most notably their melodramas where audiences throw popcorn at villainous characters. Their current production, running through August 28, is Drac in the Saddle Again, which pokes fun at classic horror movie sequels using the aging Transylvanian bloodsucker, who has found new life in the Old West.
All productions through the end of the year are still scheduled at this time, including their annual Christmas show, Ebenezer Scrooge, which they will present for the 39th time in their history as the final production at the current location.
They say they are looking for a new location that will meet their needs as a dinner theater, is conveniently located for their customers, and can be financially sustainable for them.
They ended their release with a show of gratitude to their loyal fans and members of the organization:
When theater artists work on a show for ten to twelve weeks — encouraging, inspiring, and challenging one another on stage — they create something that you cannot just walk away from at the end of a run. They create a family. As evidenced by the headshots adorning the walls of the Pocket, it’s a massive family. We cannot express enough gratitude to the members of this massive family for all they have done to help us [through] the pandemic and the commitment they express to moving forward with the Pocket.
Theater is meant to be transient; we create something that is meant to last for a moment in time. We do not know where will be located for the next chapter of the Pocket Sandwich Theatre story. However, we remain confident that the story is not over. We want to continue to grow our outreach, audiences, and impact in the community.