Theatre Bizarre Being Dismantled as Organizers Plan Future Events

“We got hit with charges and they (the City of Detroit) want things down. They want it down immediately. We’ve got less than a month and then they start fining us.” – John Dunivant, Co-Creator of Theatre Bizarre

“I knew from the day we started that they (the City of Detroit) were going to come eventually… without a doubt. You can’t do this on the scale that we were doing it and not raise some eyebrows eventually.” – Ken Poirier, Co-Creator of Theatre Bizarre

Theatre Bizarre creators John Dunivant and Ken Poirier say they don’t expect their annual, underground masquerade to return to its original location inside a burned out residential neighborhood near the vacant Michigan State Fairgrounds again.

“The grounds”, as it is referred to by the pair, covers three acres. The structures include a carnival midway, several performance stages, an “Old West” town and, at one time, a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster.

In 2010, the day before Theatre Bizarre’s annual event at “the grounds” was to take place, the City of Detroit shuttered the art installation and performance space forcing organizers to hold their party elsewhere. That year an “in exile” version of the masquerade was held at the Fillmore Theatre in Downtown Detroit.

Since then the creators have hoped to find a way to make their illegal carnival somehow legitimate in the eyes of City of Detroit officials.

But, it looks like that will not happen.

Poirier, the owner of the property Theatre Bizarre is built on, has been cited with two misdemeanor charges related to zoning violations. Since the structures were built without permits and are not coded for a residential neighborhood, city officials would like to see them removed. Dunivant says fines of up to $10,000 a month could be levied as early as April 1st if Theatre Bizarre’s co-creators don’t start dismantling “the grounds”- a creation that took over ten-years to build.

Poirier says his next court date on the matter is April 23rd.

Meanwhile, the pair says they would like to fight to keep some of the structures on the property. But Dunivant and Poirier say they are not sure what they’ll be able to keep.

Looking to the future, Theatre Bizarre organizers are planning to hold their masquerade again at the Masonic Temple, this year. The event follows “The Initiation”, which the creators staged on seven floors of that historic Detroit building last October.

WDET’s Rob St. Mary spoke to Theatre Bizarre creators John Dunivant and Ken Poirier earlier this week as they were starting to dismantle their creation. Click the audio link above to hear the interviews.

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