If historical importance were measured only by the degree to which a place has held off the encroaching hand (or backhoe) of economically driven “progress” and development, the Powerhouse Theatre would be practically a shoo-in for Most Historical. Built in 1910 as an Edison electrical plant, the Powerhouse’s distinct Mission Revival property on the Santa Monica/Venice border is now so tightly surrounded by fashionable, ultramodern housing developments that the theater’s rear redwood deck feels like the space where the neighbors’ luxury swimming pool ought to be. But what really makes the theater unique is its ballsy, passionate and gripping programming, including Tom Burmester’s War Cycle, David Bridel’s The Heretic Mysteries, David Mamet’s The Water Engine and a regular series of short, personal essay-style performances by local writers and actors under the rubric Spark. The funky intimacy of the place can’t be beat, and the wine-and-snacks spread on the deck before and after performances rounds out the already enchanting experience. 3116 2nd St., Santa Monica. (310) 396-3680, powerhousetheatre.com. —Adam Gropman

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