Riverside Theater searches for new home, plans ‘virtual performances’ amid COVID-19

Riverside Theater is searching for a new home after three decades at its current digs.


Jake Maish

The Riverside Theatre is seen on Sunday, April 26, 2020.

Charles Peckman, Senior Reporter

Riverside Theater, which is known for its locally produced plays, is looking for a new home. According to a press release from the playhouse’s website, Riverside will move from its current location, 213 N. Gilbert Street, upon the expiration of its current lease.

Despite the 2019 Novel Coronavirus causing playhouses across the country to temporarily shutter their doors, the Riverside press release said that the venue plans on hosting a season of virtual performances while also searching for local partnerships for their new home.

Since 1990, Riverside Theater has been housed on Gilbert Street, attached to Gilpin’s Paint and Glass Company. In the press release, Riverside Producing Artistic Director Adam Knight said the company has been grateful for the partnerships that have been established so far during the three-decade stint at their current location.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Gilpin family for giving us the space to build Riverside’s dreams,” Knight said. “Over the past three decades, Riverside has grown into one of the most respected and long-standing cultural institutions in Iowa City and an anchor of the Northside.”

Although the coronavirus pandemic has left the theater industry “questioning its next moves,” Knight added that Riverside is making the most of an otherwise bleak situation, reimagining ‘connections to the community and role as a cultural leader.’

The theater company, which was established in 1981, is currently in the process of finding a new home, which according to the release is expected to last until fall 2021. In the meantime, once social distancing and business restrictions are lifted, Riverside will perform ‘in residence at other venues on a show-by-show basis.’

“Riverside is eager to return to live performances, hopefully very soon, in spaces across Iowa City,” Knight said in the release. “I look forward to telling stories in innovative ways while reaching new audiences as we build towards the next stage of our history. This move reflects a vision of a theatre constantly reaching beyond its walls.”