Theater has always been an important part of culture and entertainment. One of the most liberating aspects of the art is interpretation. Be it how the audience receives a performance, how a director envisions a show or the way in which an actor brings a character to life, each working part of a production makes its own unique mark.
There’s a reason Romeo and Juliet productions never go out of style – each interpretation is different than those that come before and after. It’s the same script, the same characters, but with a new group of people and artistic method, the show will be the first of its kind.
Approaching the art of theater from different angles is what the innovative members of Writers Theater do best. In their original space, Writers Theater preferred to tell stories in a way that broke down the fourth wall between players and audience, creating a sense of community and intimacy vital to their style.
In efforts to further capture this aesthetic, Writers Theater brings the show closer to the public than a usual theater-going experience. A traditional raised stage has always been a steady barrier distinguishing make-believe and reality. Even at the original location, Writers Theater used a leveled stage, allowing the audience to feel part of the portrayal. From the beginning, the organization’s main objective has been to make productions a personal experience shared with the audience.
In 2016, Writers Theater packed up and moved to a new location in Chicago suburb, Glencoe, in order to perform in a larger space and attract additional followers. Nestled in the quaint downtown area, the building reflects the theater company’s objective to maintain intimacy and audience involvement. Decked with floor-length windows and open social spaces, collaboration is encouraged with the hope of better uniting people through theater.
The main theater seats 250 patrons with a second performance venue, a black box, seating 99. Amenities also include several rehearsal rooms, a public gathering space and a formal event venue on the second floor. One of Chicago’s most reputable architecture firms, Studio Gang Architects – lead by Jeanne Gang, FAIA – designed the new Writers Theater with the intention of creating a space to bring energy to Glencoe while maintaining an essence of transparency and fluidity.
Materials chosen for the project included metal products finished in Valspar’s Fluropon exterior architectural coating donated by Petersen Aluminum (PAC-CLAD), which is located just 14 miles away from the Glencoe Writers Theater. The donation consisted of more than 6,200 square feet of PAC-CLAD materials, including .040 aluminum sheets in Midnight Bronze and 24 gauge steel sheets finished in Stone White. Additionally, 230 liner feet of PAC-TITE .040 Angular Fascia, and 180 square-feet of PAC-750 Soffit Panels were also installed to complete the exterior.
The metal material coincides with a strategic mix of wood and concrete, adding to the building’s facade. While not an orthodox blend of materials, this design mirrors the Writers Theater mission of pushing the envelope and challenging the norm. In addition to the pleasing aesthetic, the incorporation of metal wall panels provides the building with lasting protection and sustainability.
Complementing the benefits of the metal wall panels, Fluropon equips Writers Theater with exquisite color retention and consistency. More than beauty, Fluropon boasts fantastic flexibility and formability as well as remarkable resistance against the elements. The PAC-CLAD metal panels also receive additional resistance to UV rays, dirt, stains and chalking with Fluropon.
The new location opened its doors to the public in February of 2016. Showing Arcadia as its first production, the new Writers Theater now has seven productions under its belt and counting. The Glencoe community, and truly the rest of the country, has embraced the unique drama experience that Writers Theater offers.
Seen both in the architecture of its new space and in the intimacy of its theatrical art, Writers Theater is proof that defying the norm can lead to powerful and beautiful results.
Project: Writers Theater; Glencoe, Ill., http://www.writerstheatre.org
Coatings provider: The Valspar Corporation; Minneapolis, Minn.; http://www.valsparcoilextrusion.com/
Metal panel manufacturer: Petersen Aluminum Corp.; Elk Grove Village, Ill.; https://www.pac-clad.com/
Metal panel installer: Combined Roofing Services; West Chicago, Ill.; http://combinedroofing.com/
Architect: Studio Gang Architects; Chicago, Ill.; http://studiogang.com/