New Second Stage Generating Buzz
The long awaited black box style theatre, the Parkland Theatre’s Second Stage, is finally open and housing productions in the C-Wing. The first production to take place in the new theatre was “The Sparrow”, which successfully drew attention from the student body here at Parkland and brought a lot of people through the theatre’s doors. Most nights of production were completely sold out as many were eager to view a production on the new stage.
The Second Stage suits the play style of “in the round” very well. In this style, the audience is seated around the center of the stage. Actors perform very close to the audience and this, in turn, causes the audience to feel a closer connection to the performance.
Dallas Street is the Theatre Marketing and Business Manager. Street has been a crucial asset in getting the new stage ready for use. He explained how the idea and need for the new stage came about.
“I believe the idea originated with Vice President Seamus Reilly who, at the time, was the Department Chair for Fine and Applied Arts,” Street stated. “We were in need of a smaller venue that not only serves as a theatre for smaller sized shows, but could be an all-purpose room for meetings and a dedicated space for acting and movement classes.”
According to Street, the development for the Second Stage has taken nearly three and a half years. Two and a half of those years were spent on construction and one was spent on planning with architects. “Around the World in 80 Days” was supposed to premiere on the new stage last semester but that didn’t happen because of construction delays. Now that the theatre is up and running, there should be plenty of show options throughout the following year. .
“We’ve chosen some inventive shows for Parkland’s 2015-16 Theatre season. Two will be in the Second Stage. One is titled ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom.’ It’s a very inventive play about
gaming and zombies,” Street claimed. “We’ll also produce in the Second Stage ‘The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It’, a very clever reduction of Shakespeare’s play told by a traveling troupe of actors. Our other two shows will be in our larger theater, ‘Noises Off!’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.”
The Artistic Program Director of Theatre Joi Hoffsommer detailed the many different ways in which the Second Stage will be used. It’s not simply for productions of plays or musicals. Many classes will be taught in the new space and even rented out to other acting companies in order to generate revenue and exposure for the venue.
“The greatest benefits for the students will be in learning to use two very different, but ubiquitous, styles of theatre spaces,” Hoffsommer explained. “Of course, there are always the basics that are true no matter where you are, but there are differences in design, technology and performance that are significant. It’s great that the theatre students will get the chance to experience both and learn in both.”
When compared to the main stage of the Theatre Department, the Second Stage is optimized for a more intimate production setting. All the sound and lighting is brand new. This offers crews the ability to work with new equipment to help maximize performances.
“The sound is especially good for theatre. You can hear actors’ voices well and the capability to blend music and sound effects with voice is lovely. The grid is an exceptional height. You don’t always get that in a black box style theatre. It makes a difference in flexibility and detail for lighting design,” Hoffsommer said. “The seating is comfortable and close to the action. There’s a lot to love.”
There’s a wealth of theatre classes offered at Parkland, and the new theatre offers both students and faculty an opportunity to take advantage of the potential that the Second Stage has to offer in relation to instruction. Nancy Sutton, Fine and Applied Arts Department Chair, explained how the Theatre Department plans to utilize the new space.
“Parkland’s Second Stage, our new black box theatre, is a welcome addition to the academic spaces we offer to our students, as well as an additional space to meet the needs of numerous community groups,” Sutton stated. “The space provides theatre students the opportunity to experience innovative methods of staging and lighting and to work in a more flexible creative space than what our traditional main stage theatre does. Together, the two spaces can provide our students and theatre goers with a multitude of opportunities and experiences.”
Although there were setbacks with construction, everyone in the Theatre Department is convinced that it was worth the wait. For anyone interested in upcoming performances in the Second Stage should visit http://theatre.parkland.edu, the next production is a Night of One Acts on March 13 and 14.