080612 ATLANTA-- Matt Pharr (cq) perfoms during the weekly Under-Promoted Comedy Show at Relapse Theatre in Atlanta on Thursday, June 12, 2008. Owner Bob Wood said he opened the venue--in what was once a church and homeless shelter on 14th Street--to give local comedians, actors and others a place to perform. Allen Sullivan / AJC
Photo: Allen Sullivan/AJC
Photo: Allen Sullivan/AJC

Relapse Theatre set to shut down October 5

Originally posted Friday, September 20, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Relapse Theatre in West Midtown - a home for comedic troupes of various stripes - will hold its final show October 5, according to Bob Wood, who runs the theater.

The theater had to cancel all subsequent shows after October 5, some reserved as late as March of 2020. 

Wood said in an interview Friday that the landlord had leased the space at 380 14th Street to somebody else who planned to redevelop the property. 

He said the landlord asked Wood not to reveal who he is and wouldn’t tell Wood what he plans to do with the space once Relapse is out.

Wood, who said they were on time with rent,  does not have a plan B and hopes the landlord changes his mind. 

The property owner is 380 Properties LLC, run by Noman Rashid, who also owns Buckhead Collision, and his wife Diane Leonall. Rashid’s name is the registered agent for 380 Properties on the state web site listing active corporations in Georgia. 

Relapse operated at that 14th Street location from 2005 until 2013, when the property was foreclosed on and the bank booted the theater. Rashid’s 380 Properties bought the parcel and tried to turn it into a hotel with help from local architect Rob Ponder, according to news reports at the time.

But the hotel never happened.  

Wood said he was asked back in 2016 and he was able to reopen. 

Relapse, unlike improv theaters such as Midtown’s Whole World Theatre and Dad’s Garage, did not have a set ensemble comedy troupe. Wood allowed independent groups to rent the space and host shows. 

Wood has kept costs low by not paying himself. His wife, he said, is gainfully employed. “I love my life,” Wood said in an interview last year. “I’m on top of the world doing exactly what I want to do. That’s money to me.”

He always saw the space for up-and-coming comics to develop their craft. “I’ve always taken a bottom-up perspective on comedy,” Wood said. 

He occasionally books bigger names. Last month, he scheduled a show there hosted by quirky comics Bobcat Goldthwait and Dana Gould. But the pair’s driver crashed their vehicle into another while turning into the theater. They were both hospitalized with minor injuries but had to cancel the show.

In terms of developing talent, Wood is most proud of Rory Scoval, who now has a 2017 Netflix special shot at Relapse. “He said he found his comedic voice at Relapse,” Wood said. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.