Saint John — Famed urban activist Jane Jacobs once said new ideas need old buildings, and few buildings in the Port City are older than the Sydney Street courthouse.
Now, the Saint John Theatre Company is proposing to transform the courthouse’s halls of justice into a dance hall. The company’s director is hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream by opening an extension campus of High School of Performing Arts on the property — the same one that was made world-famous by the 1980s TV series and movie, Fame.
“Come on, you know… Fame?” asked theatre director Keenan Tiberius. “I mean, other people must still watch that every day besides me, right? Admittedly, I’m a bit of a superfan. The courthouse is an ideal location to launch a ‘superstar refinery’!”
Tiberius is extremely optimistic about the prospect of resurrecting the old building into a maven for starlets. “You ain’t seen the best of it yet. Give me time, and I’ll make you forget the rest of the other buildings. Seriously though, I feel it comin’ together. People will see it and cry.”
The Saint John County Courthouse is a three-storey stone building built in 1829 in King Square. It is located across the street from the Loyalist Burial Grounds, and it was designated a national historic site in 1974. However, it has been vacant ever since court proceedings moved to Peel Plaza in the summer of 2013, when it became a political hot potato tossed between the provincial and municipal governments.
“We could re-enact episodes from the show, and tape them and put them on the Internet. I know all of the words to practically every episode,” he added. “This will be my enduring contribution to the culture of the city. Baby, they will remember my name!”
Tiberius then started to sing quietly, punctuating with jazz hands — “Remember, remember, remember, remember… FAME!”