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The East Village is defined by avant-garde institutions like P.S. 122 and La MaMa, but this little theater's agenda is rooted in the tried-and-true, not in tomorrow's trends. Since 1984, The Pearl's small resident acting company has been putting up about a half-dozen productions per season—Shakespeare, Shaw, Sophocles, and the rest of the Western canon. Formerly a 1920s speakeasy and later a movie house, the 160-seat auditorium is a fairly traditional proscenium facing eight rows under a low, pressed-tin ceiling. There's also a long-standing Walk of Fame on the sidewalk in front of the theater where you can see the handprints and signature of Gloria Swanson or Joan Crawford. You won't find that level of name recognition on stage. Unless you're counting the immortal playwrights, that is.