Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Somerville armory converted into arts center

At the old armory on Highland Avenue, the Massachusetts National Guard has long since exited stage right.

But come March, Shakespeare will take over the soldiers' former quarters with a production of his military play, "Coriolanus."

It will mark the transformation of the building into Somerville's first major community arts center.

The project was immense. The 30,000-square-foot space had stood largely unused for 30 years when Joseph and Nabil Sater bought it in 2004. The building and renovations have cost more than $4 million, Joseph Sater said.

"It is a wonderfully evocative space," said Ben Evett, artistic director and founder of the Actors' Shakespeare Project, now based on the second floor. He envisioned actors descending from the ceiling on ropes.