Weston Playhouse Theatre Gains Ground for New Theatre in Southern Vermont
The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company's $10 million capital campaign has reached another milestone with the conditional approval by the Town of Weston Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Commission of the Company's plan to build a new Studio Theatre on the former Walker dairy farm in Weston Village.
Located on Route 100 South - also known as Weston's Main Street - the new theatre will complement the historic flagship Weston Playhouse on the Weston Village Green. The 2,900-square-foot building will accommodate up to 140 people in a flexible seating plan that allows for both theatrical and community uses. The 5 acre parcel includes the Walker farmhouse, barns and two large silos, which will be preserved.
Steve Stettler, Weston's Producing Artistic Director, said "We will, of course, continue to offer great summer shows in the Weston Playhouse, but this project will allow us to extend our reach. During the summer the theatre at Walker Farm will serve as a setting for thought-provoking pieces and other shows that are better suited to a smaller and more flexible space. The new theatre will also expand our season into the autumn and provide a community resource for meetings and all kinds of events."
Steve Stettler continued, "Perhaps most important, the Studio Theatre will be the centerpiece of our project to create an incubator for the performing arts in Vermont -- a greatly expanded program to develop new musicals and plays, bringing theatre artists from across the US to work and create in a quiet rural setting. The program will enhance Vermont's reputation for excellence in the arts, have a positive economic impact on our region, and make a major contribution to the future of the American theatre."
The new theatre is a major part of the theatre company's $10 million capital campaign. In addition to the land acquisition, design and construction costs of the new building, the campaign includes a half million dollar education endowment, $1 million in improvements to the Weston Playhouse building, and a $1.5 million Fund for the American Theatre, which will provide approximately $200,000 a year over 7 years in support of the new works incubator. The campaign is being chaired by Wayne Granquist, Chair Emeritus of the theatre company, and has raised $5.4 million to date.With a target construction start date of April 2015, the Company hopes to be producing on the Walker Farm by the summer of 2016.
Wayne Granquist said, "The Walker Farm was home to Kenneth and Anna Walker and to Gladys Walker, who performed in the community's first production at the original Weston Playhouse in 1935 and remained active in the theatre throughout her life. She organized the ushers, collected tickets, and attended almost every production, sitting front and center, up until the month prior to her death at age 102. This project is the culmination of her dream to bring world-class professional theatre to Weston on a year-round basis."
Amy Bannon, Capital Campaign Administrator and a Weston resident, said "We are actively seeking donations during the final phase of this exciting campaign. We welcome comments and suggestions on how we can grow our dream that Weston will become a nationally recognized destination for theatre audiences and artists, with a reputation for artistic excellence and the development of exciting new work."