Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

New Theater Space

Amongst the many renovations to Augustana’s campus, one of the most drastic is the brand new theater space. Brunner Theater recently opened, replacing Potter Theater completely. Besides being in a new building, Brunner is a much larger space, able to accommodate both a larger audience, and more set pieces.
The new space was made possible through a generous donation of one million dollars from alumni Kim and Donna Brunner. The entire project was about a 4.2 million dollar ordeal, which gave the theater department a brand new 250 seat venue, a smaller black box theater, new costume and scene design workshops, and, most importantly, a brand new stage.
“With the new theatre space we finally have the resources to match our ambition,” says senior theatre major Debo Balogun. “Thanks to the facilities, we can . . . broaden the scope of productions we put on.”
Theater student Jessica Holzknecht is excited to see the way the new space can be used.
“The biggest change with the new space is just the size of it. It’s much larger than the old space which gives us a lot of opportunities in terms of set and scenic design,” said Holzknecht. “It also is a true thrust theatre which makes staging the shows more interesting because of all the different angles we have to take into account.”
A thrust theater features a stage that extends into the audience on three sides and is connected to its backstage area. Though this can be a little bit of an adjustment for actors who have never used this type of stage before, it can be an entirely new experience for new students. 
For first-year Robert Burke, the new theater is a chance to see just what college theater is.
“My high school theatre was a theatre-in-the-round and having experience with different types of stage setups makes it easier to adapt,” Burke Notes
“It’s easier in that we have much more space to work with, which means larger sets with more options for staging, says Holzknecht. “On the other hand, having all the extra space can be a challenge because it’s harder to make the space look full with just one or two actors.”
However, many theatre students agree that they are looking forward to expanding set construction and playing with movement in the coming shows.
“There’s a lot talent, drive, and creativity within the deparment,” says Balogun. “(In Brunner) we can better showcase that talent.”
Overall, students like Balogun, Holzknecht, and Burke are extremely excited to being using the new space. They look forward to being able to accommodate larger audiences at their shows, and grow as actors. The move from Potter Theater to Brunner Theater is widely regarded as a great decision for the theater department at Augustana.

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New Theater Space