Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Freezer Theatre? Previous Next
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Dan
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Username: Dan

Post Number: 1398
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 7:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A friend of mine was telling me about rock shows at a make shift venue somewhere in Cass corridor called The Freezer. He saw some good local bands there in the late 1970s early 1980s.

Apparently the venue was totally illegal, and was built by it owner. The name came from the freezer door which was used as its main entrance.

Does anyone have any stories or info about this place? I know its a long shot, but what about pictures?
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Xd_brklyn
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Username: Xd_brklyn

Post Number: 227
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 10:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The original Freezer Theater was located close to Warren I think. Went in there only once. They put on a play and all the actors were cardboard cut-outs that were hung from strings like clothes drying on a clothesline. They would then push these characters back and forth along these strings as the play progressed. The voices were all off-stage. Didn't know what to make of it, I just remember the space being cramped and precarious. When they moved the space to Cass, I was impressed this group was actually expanding.

At the new space, I don't remember any other performances there other than the local rock and roll groups at that time. The first bands I recall seeing there were all friends involved in groups like Phobelex, L7, The Frames, A-Moms, and Razor 1922. It was no big shake at the time. Attendance was light and the crowd was mostly made up of people who knew each other.

However, when the local hardcore scene took off, the Freezer Theater started getting out of control. It was managed by a young kid (forget his name now) who was totally overwhelmed by the amount of kids coming in. It was surprising to see the Freezer begin to host bands from around the country.

Couldn't take to the hardcore punks as I watched the original punk thing take off in 77 and 78, but I did see one of my top ten shows of all-time there. It was a group that was at one time called Problem, then Hate Grey, and then Hunting Lodge. They only performed one show as Hate Grey and it was at the Freezer Theater. Their show was Antonin Artaud's Theater of the Absurd in pure sound. Have never heard any band perform anything like it since; strange sounds everywhere, manipulated distortion, various sound bits, taped animal sounds, crashing cymbals, and all mixed to a back beat to get you groovin! Plus the Freezer Theater also set up a perfect backdrop for this macabre sound.

Photos? There are plenty. See this site here:

http://www.davo.com/davoperson alarchives/PunkRock/index.html

quote:

The name came from the freezer door which was used as its main entrance.



I think the freezer door your friend mentions may have been the original Freezer Theater where I saw the play. That place could have been hand-built. I wouldn't doubt it. However, the bands you see playing in the photos were definitely in the second Freezer on Cass. Don't remember what the door was like though I know it didn't have a window. In fact, there were no windows in the entire place.

In any case, glad to hear the Freezer Theater can still gather some interest.

Cheers
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Pam
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Username: Pam

Post Number: 1549
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2007 - 7:16 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I saw Minor Threat there. (1982) I think that was the only time I went. Definitely a "hole in the wall". I don't even think they had a bathroom.

(Message edited by Pam on May 11, 2007)
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East_detroit
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Username: East_detroit

Post Number: 1073
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2007 - 7:46 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

3958 Cass Ave.
Detroit, Michigan



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East_detroit
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Username: East_detroit

Post Number: 1074
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2007 - 7:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

April 3, 1982, that is...
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Goat
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Username: Goat

Post Number: 9414
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2007 - 9:44 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Could this be at the Freezer Theatre?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =HQyrgQngq1s
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J_to_the_jeremy
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Username: J_to_the_jeremy

Post Number: 11
Registered: 03-2007
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2007 - 9:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It looks pretty similar to some of the pictures on the "Davo's Archives" site. But not to the ones labled "freezer".

Cool old footage.
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East_detroit
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Username: East_detroit

Post Number: 1076
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2007 - 9:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Looks like the Greystone Hall on Michigan Ave.

Oddly enough, the original Misfits and Black Flag both played their last shows at that place... and both were taped by Russ Gibb's students.
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Eastsidedame
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Username: Eastsidedame

Post Number: 131
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 6:10 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There are some references to the Freezer Theater on the Tribes of the Cass Corridor site. Their forum might be another good source of information: http://corridortribe.com/index .html
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Lowell
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Username: Lowell

Post Number: 3853
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 11:58 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The original Freezer theater was in a commercial space next to a Yono's Market [the somewhere west off 3rd, pretty sure after consulting CULMNA aerial maps was on Hancock just west of 3rd] in area that is now rebuilt as townhouses. [Yono's later reprised their business as the Campus ? - it is on the NW corner of Forest and 3rd].

The Freezer was part of the vibrant creative scene of Detroit's Cass Corridor art bohemia back in its pimps, hoes and pusher days, before its present 'Midtown' gentrification. The closest thing to the Freezer today is the Trumbull Theater. The copied text below describes some of the spirit of those times nicely. I was at the 'Jonestown' performance and when the wacky anarchist actors passed around the Kool Aid, I declined, even though they were my friends. ha ha. I didn't think it would have cyanide, but beyond that...?

quote:

I spent most of my 20's and 30's in the Cass Corridor and was involved with the Freezer theatre.

Pat Haley was the driving force behind the Freezer, and the original theatre was located on 2nd or 3rd Street (my memory fails me) next to a liquor store.

The first theatre was a small dank, dark place that had once been used as a freezer for the store (thus the name). At some point, the theatre moved onto Cass Ave. Pat Haley wrote most of the plays, but other talented people contributed plays and scripts. Unfortunately, I can't remember any names, except Bob and Mary (Dryovage) Carasik who, last I heard, were still living here in San Francisco. Probably the most famous production was a satire on the Jonestown mass suicide (when Jim Jones and cult members committed suicide - or were forced to kill themselves- by drinking poisoned kool aid). At the end of the play, we offered kool aid to the audience, but few availed themselves of the free refreshment. Another great piece was the one in which Pat led the audience through the alleys of the corridor, with actors popping out up from behind trees and trash bins.

The Freezer was presaged by the Easy Space Theatre, another loosely knit group who put on political satires in a Southwest Detroit storefront. Judy Coletti, Richard Ades and Gordon Barry were instrumental in that group.
Again, a lot of talented people involved but the only names I can remember are Angela DiSante and a man named Hughthir White.

A lot of good theatre was also happening at the HoHo Inn, the old Chinese restaurant that became the Grinning Duck Club - a performance space for music and political theatre. The Club put on a great show when the Republican convention was held in Detroit. The club eventually moved to the old Willis Show Bar. I think Alan and Ralph Franklin were instrumental in organizing the Grinning Duck Club. Working with theatre groups in the Corridor was great.

It was political, creative and fun - what more could a gal ask for?

Diane Polish

Source Tribes of Cass Corridor

Thanks for the stories; it makes me think that we probably sat in the same rooms together.
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Barnesfoto
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Username: Barnesfoto

Post Number: 3487
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 6:52 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ah, the old days...
I'm sure, Pam, that the Freezer had a bathroom, because I remember being there and drinking quarts of Stroh's out of paper bags...
Thanks for the link to Davo's pics.
He was a classmate of mine at WSU, and shot more pics than me...If I could only be so organized as to go thru my old negs and catalog them.
For those that might remember Mr. Unique and the Leisure Class at the Freezer, here's a link to a more recent performance...sans Mr.Unique...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =juYbGKHVaXk
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Pam
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Username: Pam

Post Number: 1557
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 8:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

I'm sure, Pam, that the Freezer had a bathroom, because I remember being there and drinking quarts of Stroh's out of paper bags



Luckily I never had to go. That could have been awkward. :-)
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Xd_brklyn
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Username: Xd_brklyn

Post Number: 228
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, May 13, 2007 - 10:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Lowell, thanks for clearing up the location of the original Freezer. An instructor at CCS, Bill Girard, and one of his students introduced me to the place. Being right out of the suburbs, didn't have any sense of the location at that time.

In the YouTube video, the stage is too high, the backdrop too clean, and the building's width is too wide for the Freezer. The place was really not professional in any way. Don't think there was anyone over 24 years old managing the Freezer in it's hardcore days. The Davo's photos capture the time well.

Funny, don't remember a bathroom at the place, but do remember the Freezer was located right across from the Brown/Hamilton Home, 3957 Cass.

Here's a flyer from one of the early bands that played the Freezer:

Freezer Theater flyer
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 885
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Monday, May 14, 2007 - 12:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

OK, who's organizing this summer's old punk flier show. Let's do it at Bo House.

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