Performing Arts Center could bring huge theater festivals to Brookings

Heather Hall

Heather Hall

With the opening of the new Performing Arts Center in the summer of 2003, SDSU is also announcing a new idea that will benefit the campus and community.

The idea incorporated a Theatre Festival that could attract 10,000 to 15,000 people to Brookings, and estimates figure the number could grow to 75,000 to 100,000 in 15 or 20 years.

“What we would like is to make Brookings our center of theatre activity for the summer. We would classify it as the SDSU/Brookings summer Theater Festival,” said James Johnson, director of theater at SDSU.

The festival would have three plays in the new studio theater in the Performing Arts Center and three plays in Doner Auditorium. The performances would happen in these facilities at the same time for five days.

“In other words, theater patrons could view six different plays in a five-day span,” Johnson said. “During the day, workshops and forums would be held providing high school, college and community patrons information on various theater topics.”

This festival would imitate the Stratford Festival, located in southwestern Ontario, Canada in Stratford. This city is a theatrical success story that began in 1953 with the same goals SDSU is aiming for. These goals include: to advertise the city over the entire North American continent; to bring people into the community for the summer; and to give children and children’s children an opportunity to see the best theater in the world.

The festival in Stratford sells more than 500,000 tickets from May to November and estimates that people coming to the city provide an extra income of more than $100 million for the merchants and citizens, not including ticket sales.

Kevin Gudal has indicated an interest in directing or acting for the initial season. Gudal is an SDSU alumnus and a five-year member of the Stratford Festival.

SDSU President Peggy Miller is excited about the possibility of the festival.

“I have seen the Brookings/SDSU communities work together to accomplish many good things, I am extremely enthusiastic about the new town/gown venture. Since the people of Brookings were instrumental in making the Performing Arts Center possible, it is especially good that so many of them will be able to benefit from it so quickly and directly.”

The Theater Festival would be held the week immediately following the Brookings Arts Festival. Theatre groups from outside Brookings could be invited to perform at various locations throughout the community, such as high school, and Pioneer Park, a tent on the Campus Green.