The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Renovations to Space Place Theater improve experiences for audience and performers

Located in North Hall on the University of Iowa campus, Space Place Theater is home to various performances in dance and other arts throughout the year. This past summer, it underwent several aesthetic and technical renovations.
David Harmantas
Students in the University of Iowa’s Department of Dance perform in a dress rehearsal for the Faculty/Graduate Concert in Space Place Theater on Tuesday, Feb 5., 2019.

While students may congregate in North Hall on the University of Iowa campus for classes or activities, they may also be drawn to the recently renovated Space Place Theater, where various performances occur throughout the year.

Space Place Theater, located in the basement of North Hall, was used as a gymnasium and warm-up space for dancers in the early 1980s when it was first acquired by the UI. Since then, it has evolved into the versatile theater it is today, and recent renovations were made to increase its use for the arts. The renovations were carried out under the supervision of the UI’s Performing Arts at Iowa division, particularly the dance and opera departments.

Costume Shop Manager of Dance and Opera, Cindy Kubu, said most of these renovations were conducted this past summer and were important to make the space more presentable and safer for dancers and audience members. Space Place has made considerable advancements toward presentability and safety with aesthetic and technical alterations.

One aspect of the space that alterations were focused on was the backstage area, which did not have suitable dressing rooms or resources to wash costumes. Kubu said the theater’s dressing room was once a locker room, and the new renovations created more room for dancers to change by converting old showers into dressing rooms.

“We love it more. I think the students are very happy,” Kubu said. “It’s just a safer, cleaner, better space.”

In the audience space, the theater’s original seating arrangements were not cohesive nor built to last, and the seats themselves had aged with time. This summer’s renovations added new chairs and reupholstered others to facilitate a comfortable viewing space and added rope lights for safety.

North Hall is home not just to Space Place Theater but to several university classrooms and the UI School of Social Work, meaning that Space Place is sometimes overlooked. A large part of the recent renovations involved altering the theater’s exterior to better announce its presence. The walls both inside and outside the theater were repainted to create a more cohesive environment.

“The lobby has absolutely been transformed into a better lobby, so it’s inviting to our guests,” Kubu said.

Technical Director of Dance and Opera, Don Schneider, emphasized how the renovations have increased “respect” for the space.

“I think when you take the time to make things better, and especially in improving appearances, people tend to take better care of things,” Schneider said. “That means your equipment lasts longer. I think it also just tends to elevate moods.”

While the recent renovations have brought major improvements to Space Place, Schneider shared that there is still room for more. He noted that a major future project will be to repaint the entire backstage area. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of developing a more permanent solution for the lack of dressing rooms.

“We’ve been very creative with getting things cleaned up, but it’d be nice to just rip all of those out and put in dressing rooms with actual solid doors,” Schneider said. “It’s something that can be done. And I think that will be the next step that I’d like to see.”

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About the Contributors
Emma Gaughan
Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter
Emma Gaughan is a second-year student at the University of Iowa, studying psychology and criminology, as well as completing a writing certificate. She is from West Des Moines, where she developed her love of both writing and the arts.
David Harmantas
David Harmantas, Photojournalist
David Harmantas is a staff photographer at the The Daily Iowan. He is a third-year law student at the University of Iowa College of Law and is in his second year as a photographer for the DI. While he shoots general assignments for the DI, he has a particular emphasis on sports and the performing arts.