Have you recently attended an event in the UIS Studio Theatre?
Over the past year, the UIS Performing Arts Center has expanded presentations in the UIS Studio Theatre, offering a multitude of engaging events for anyone seeking entertainment, cultural enrichment or a memorable night out. As a complimentary space to the 2,000-seat Sangamon Auditorium, the size and technical capabilities of the 124-seat UIS Studio Theatre offers the opportunity for the center to feature local artists and reach unique audiences for equally unique events.
One of the most compelling reasons to attend events in this space is the intimate setting it provides. The theater offers an up-close and personal experience, allowing the audience to truly connect with performers and immerse themselves in a story or an art form. The small seating capacity ensures that every seat is a good one, creating an atmosphere where every moment feels significant.
The space has been and continues to be the performance home for events produced by UIS Theatre and UIS Music, both part of the UIS Department of Art, Music and Theatre. However, in the past year, many new and unique programs have been added to the center’s expanded offerings.
The UIS Performing Arts Center’s Date Night series features skilled local artists in short performance events that allow audiences to “sample” an art form, an instrument or a composer. The events are offered at 6:30 p.m. so audiences can either get home early or enjoy a late dinner afterward. Recent past events have included a “Date Night with Jazz,” featuring the Groove Merchants; “Date Night with Improv,” featuring the Capital City Improv troupe; and “Date Night with Mother Road Bones,” a trombone quartet. Some of these events are presented in partnership with UIS Music, whose teaching roster includes a wealth of excellent musicians. As with all events in the UIS Studio Theatre, these Date Nights provide a fantastic opportunity to connect with friends, family or fellow culture enthusiasts, fostering a sense of community and shared appreciation for the arts.
Providing a platform for emerging talent and creativity, Our Stage / Our Voices is the Center’s program in which members of historically underrepresented communities address the issues of inequality in the regional performing arts. An annual artist-in-residence advances a project that touches on these issues. This year, artist-in-residence Tim Crawford is writing Outraged: Terror in Springfield 1908, a play that tells a family story of the racially-charged events that took place in Springfield in August of 1908. In November, the UIS Studio Theatre will host a staged reading of this work-in-progress and three ten-minute plays written by local playwrights also will be presented.
In 2022-2023, the center offered the first events in the UIS Studio Theatre designated as sensory-friendly. These events are specifically designed to cater to audience members with sensory needs. Lighting and volume changes are kept to a minimum and artists and ushers are prepared to accommodate audiences who may be vocal or may need to move from their seats during the performance. The center recently became certified as a sensory-friendly venue through KultureCity, with staff participating in sensory-friendly training and the venue offering resources that may help individuals with sensory needs. This year, the Performing Art Center’s sensory-friendly events are “Experience Folk Dance” in November and “Experience Joyful Music” in February.
As part of the expanded use of the UIS Studio Theatre, the UIS Performing Arts Center has also started creating events from scratch by acting as a theatrical producer in the UIS Studio Theatre. In this capacity, the center selects a script, hires the creative staff and individual artists and does all of the other work involved in creating a show. This year, two plays were produced: the Holocaust remembrance play And Then They Came For Me in February, and a riveting new play about race and power structures within academia, The Niceties in September. Watch for more information about a production of Larry Kramer’s AIDS play The Normal Heart coming in March 2024 to this stage.
We invite you to explore our website, UISpac.com, to learn all about the events in the UIS Studio Theatre, which offer an unmatched blend of artistic excellence, intimate ambiance, community engagement and diverse entertainment options. Whether you’re looking for a memorable night out or a deeper connection with the arts, attending events in this charming venue is a choice you won’t regret. Come join us and be a part of the magic unfolding on this intimate stage.
Carly Shank is the artistic programs director at the UIS Performing Arts Center and has been involved on and off the stage in local theater for 40 years.