Augustana Opens Brunner Theatre Center

Oct 13, 2016

Augustana senior Sam Johnson painting the floor of the war room for "Othello."
Credit WVIK News / WVIK News

A 400 year old play will help open a new state-of-the-art theater complex this weekend at Augustana College. "Othello" by William Shakespeare is the first play to be produced in the new Brunner Theatre Center.

The chair of the Theatre Arts Department, Jeff Coussens, says the new main stage theater is a huge improvement over the previous one.

"It maintains the intimacy of Potter Hall in Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts which is one of the few things that we really thought was an advantage of that space. And at the same time, we've gained a lot of square footage backstage and vertical space that's necessary for us to do better lighting design."

 The new theater center will also allow him to put on larger and more ambitious productions - for its first season, Coussens chose "Othello" to open, with "Titanic" to close in the spring. Both have large casts.

"So we're able to put a lot more students on stage and get a lot more students involved with backstage action as well."

 The Brunner Theatre Center is the result of a 4.2 million dollar make-over of what used to be the upper two floors of the College Center. And he says even before the opening, it boosted enrollment and participation in Augustana's theater arts program.