SPT Theatre settles into a new space for season 12: If You Build It

SPT Theatre Presents: Tales From the Writers Room Season 12 If You Build It—1 Under Construction

Shores Central Park — Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m.

SPT inaugurates their new space at a recent sneak peak season preview night. — courtesy of SPT Theatre

SPT Theatre launches its 12th season this weekend and its first season as the resident company at Shores Central Park (700 16th St NE, Cedar Rapids) with Under Construction, the first installment of this iteration of Tales from the Writers’ Room. The theme this year is If You Build It.

In this new space, SPT has come home in many ways. SPT was born in the Shores Building, and the company had its first performance in the Cabinet Studio there. SPT then moved to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art for three years before relocating to CSPS in 2011, where SPT made its home for seven years. Now, as SPT begins its new residence, the board’s vision continues to be to cultivate Cedar Rapids and its artists.

In moving to the college district, board member Kristin Janssen says, “We are looking to welcome new audience members and encourage future performers.”

Chris Okiishi, one of SPT’s Writers’ Room playwrights, adds, “The opportunity to launch a new space as a resident theater was too good to turn down.”

SPT has gained not only a new space to work in, but also doubled its preparation time by moving to the Shores Building, with more access to the space as the resident company. Audiences will encounter “a more rehearsed and refined show,” Okiishi says. The new space features stadium seating for 200 audience members, exposed brick, an elevated booth from which light and sound can be run and multiple peekaboo entrances. The company looks forward to incorporating an innovative and surprising use of space.

Like all of the work at SPT, settling into the new space is an on-going creative process. The ambiance at the season launch party was much that of a transformed loading dock — precisely what this space is. Built in 1911, the Shores building was originally home to the Shores-Mueller Company, which sold a range of products to its customers via catalog that were produced, packaged and sold right from that Cedar Rapids location.

For this first show at Shores Central Park, the Shores Event Center, downstairs from the auditorium, is hosting a ticketed dinner. The center has partnered with Granite City to offer dinner at 6:15 p.m., with choices cleverly named in the spirit of this season’s theme: Meatloaf Road Blocks with Demi Glace or Balsamic Pasta Utility Ropes, Roasted Carrot Construction Cones,Brussels Wrecking Balls. Both meals include a house salad and a complimentary bar drink.

Guest artists for Under Construction include Marty Norton, Mic Evens, Jim Coates, Greg Kanz and Dave Ollinger. In addition to Okiishi, the Writers’ Room stable of playwrights includes Adam Witte, Mary Sullivan, David Martino and Lindsay Prince. Founding SPT members Doug Elliott, Jane Pini, Gerard Estella and Janelle Lauer form the core of the group.

If you have never been to an SPT show, you must rectify this immediately. You can get a drink downstairs, move up to the new space and know that you are in for a good night. SPT shows offer comedy, music, variety and a chance to really enjoy the amazing talents of local writers, actors and musicians. Tickets are $20 prior to the show and $25 at the door.