The Summer Circle Theatre, a group who performs summer shows on campus, is celebrating their 55th year with a new location to showcase their performances this season.
“The last couple years have been right on the river, and we’ve had to make the stage every year,” recent MSU alumna and group actor Sarah Goeke said. “We [now] have this great new area, this new space … for all different art forms.”
The old location had been inaccessible to audiences, associate professor of theatre Rob Roznowski said, but a new, permanent space was able to be built because of the donations from the Friends of Theatre at MSU.
The Friends of Theatre at MSU has a gala every summer to raise money for the productions, Christine Knapp, chairperson of the gala, said. She adds they raised $100,000 for the new outdoor venue.
“Right now we’re probably at the most elaborate we’ve been in a very long time,” chairperson of MSU’s Department of Theatre Kirk Domer said.
Domer said about 35 of MSU’s faculty and students are helping with the five productions this summer, and every night there’s pre-show entertainment: singing on Wednesdays, dancing on Thursdays and a kid’s show on Friday and Saturday before the main performance.
There’s also a late night show every night after the main show, Domer said.
The show the students performed for the gala was “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play,” Roznowski said, adding the performance is made up eight actors, all students or recent grads.
“A very interesting play about what happens when the grid goes down,” Roznowski said, explaining how the play revolves around how theater survives in a post-apocalyptic world.
Domer describes it as an eclectic piece about oral tradition, using a variety of performance styles as a way for society to retain their history and their selves, after the electricity has gone out.
The play, which opened June 10, has a run time of just over two hours and consists of three acts: act one is the power going out, act two is seven years later, and act three is 75 years later.
“It’s a commentary … about how theater will change and what it can be as a vehicle for entertainment or to provide meaning in future years depending on … what happens in the world,” Goeke said. “The audience can take away anything they want to because there’s so much to take away.” She adds the show includes much a capella and involves the group creating their own sound.
“It’s fun. It’s fascinating theater I think, and hopefully it’ll kind of push the audience into a new area,” Goeke said.
The new location is cleaner and more sophisticated, Goeke said, and there will be no more sitting in mud or rain puddles on the audiences’ part.
Goeke brags there are also lights on the stage, tiered seating and an audience section which allows viewers to be closer to the stage.
"What we’re able to achieve is a much more professional endeavor,” Roznowski said. “A much better viewing experience for the audience.”
Summer Circle Theatre performances are always free and are held at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday in the Summer Circle Courtyard, located on Auditorium Road between the Auditorium Building and the Kresge Art Center.