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  • Writer's pictureAustin Playhouse

AP Announces New Interim Venue in the Heart of West Campus!

Austin Playhouse will now call 405 West 22nd home while continuing to pursue the vital project of establishing its permanent venue in Austin.

After a successful all-virtual 2020-2021 Ghostlight Season, a workshop production of a new musical, and two productions at Trinity Street Playhouse, moving into this interim space will allow Austin Playhouse to produce works and provide an additional much needed performance space in Austin while focusing on the company's future.

Located in the heart of West Campus, the new venue will be established in the education building on the University Baptist Church's (UBC) campus. Austin Playhouse will renovate the third-floor auditorium into a flexible performance space. With capacity for approximately 120 patrons, minor renovations will extend the existing proscenium stage offering flex seating configurations that can transform based on staging. Additionally, Austin Playhouse will occupy most of the building's second floor which will have a studio/rehearsal room, dressing rooms, green room and offices.

The original stage in the student union, circa 1950.

Built in 1950 as a student union due to rising demand for more campus resources post World War II, the building's exterior features artwork by two nationally recognized Modernist artists, both of whom were University of Texas at Austin professors at the time. Visible from 22nd Street, Seymour Fogel's mural, Creation, was a pioneering work in the ethyl silicate medium and Charles Umlauf's sculpture, Prayer, is also featured in the brick façade above the entrance.

"Our slogan is 'Rooted in faith. Progressive in action.' Since our founding in 1908, University Baptist Church has been known as one of Austin's progressive voices of faith. An important part of our history includes supporting the arts," said Hans Venable, member and Church Moderator. "As church membership and attendance patterns have changed over the last 25 years, inner city and university area churches, like UBC, explore alternative uses for our buildings as outreach community centers. UBC is super excited to partner with Austin Playhouse to convert our third-floor auditorium back into a theatre space. We look forward to sharing one of our assets with the Austin community and welcome the Austin Playhouse family (staff, directors, actors, theatre technicians, season subscribers and patrons) to UBC and the West Campus area."

"This new venue will give us the security to plan seasons along with the flexibility to make adjustments as needed, and we couldn't be more excited that University Baptist Church wanted to increase their impact in the community by transforming the education building into a performing arts venue allowing this amazing opportunity for Austin Playhouse and the arts in Austin," said Austin Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Lara Toner Haddock.

The area is also accessible with free street parking after 6pm and all day Sunday as well as two adjacent paid parking garages. A drop-off drive on the San Antonio side of the building is also available.

"As we keep in mind our goal of a permanent, sustainable home, we're creating an interim facility for Austin Playhouse and Austin's greater performing arts community," said Haddock. Austin Playhouse has made theatre in some out-of the-way spots including renovating a World War I flight training facility, building a clear-span tent in a field, and transforming a Foot Locker in a dying mall into a functional venue. We're excited at the opportunity to be in the bustling heart of West Campus, reaching a new community while also creating a welcoming space for our loyal audience."

"The audience and artist experience are at the heart of what we do. We're looking at every part of that experience as we plan our return to a full season of productions. Coming through this pandemic it's imperative that we create with joy. We want to crush barriers to access and use our resources to uplift every member of our community. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our new home and are so grateful for the support the UBC community has already shown."

The new venue will open in August with a commissioned world premiere play collection from Lowell Bartholomee. Read more about Previews of Departing Attractions here.

The full 2022-23 Subscription Season will be announced soon.

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