The Drama Bookshop faces rent hike, uncertain future

When actor, playwright and novelist Eric Bogosian moved to this city more than 40 years ago, he says he got off the bus and headed straight for The Drama Bookshop.

"Drama Bookshop is the heart of our theater community," Bogosian said.

And in this place where Bogosian and the rest of that community have come for more than 100 years to peruse more than 10,000 different plays, socialize and keep current on all the happenings in the theater world, Bogosian and other playwrights gathered Monday to sign copies of their plays to hopefully raise some money for the first and now only drama bookstore in the city.

"The last one standing," Drama Bookshop Vice President Allen Hubby said.

Hubby, whose family has owned at least a portion of the store for more than six decades and who has worked here off and on for nearly 40 years himself, worries his rising rent — un-payable by selling $10 plays — might soon force him too to close.

"We already can't afford what we pay now," Hubby said.

The Drama Bookshop expects its rent to rise to about $20,000 a month on Feb. 1. But instead of leaving the city without a drama bookstore, Hubby said he hopes to raise the money to find a way to move to a new location.

"I think we're an integral part of the theater in New York," he said.

Located between the theaters, the rehearsal studios and the acting schools — Hubby, his customers and playwrights like Dan Goggin, all of who've worked to save the store from closing several times in the last few years, argue — The Drama Bookshop, with its black box theater where Lynn-Manuel Miranda wrote "In The Heights," satisfies a need greater than just nostalgia.

"I just had a new play come out that almost nobody knows about," Goggin said, "but I wrote the Nunsense show so they come in for Nunsense and they go: 'Oh! Here's something new that we can read."

"The thing about going into a bookstore is you never know what you're going to see that you weren't thinking about beforehand," Bogosian said.

"You can't help but be a little moved and a little touched that these people who are very well known are taking time out of their day to support you," Hubby said.