The entire square — which is set to become something of a regional arts mecca — is known collectively as the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts. Opened in July, the square gives visitors to campus and the renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival a centralized place to enjoy live theater, art displays and the beauty of Southern Utah.
“Fred Adams, our founder, had a dream to create a central place for people to come experience the festival,” says Joshua Stavros, media and public relations manager for the Utah Shakespeare Festival. “Now it’s really here. It’s exciting.”
The new outdoor Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre replaces the former Adams Theatre, but has a similar feel. The Engelstad is designed with more comfortable seating, elevators that make the theater ADA compliant, more restrooms and an improved backstage area.
“The actor-viewer relationship is almost exactly the same as it was in the Adams Theatre,” Stavros says. “From the outside, the building will look much bigger. But inside, it feels similar. It’s still outdoors so you retain the ‘Shakespeare under the stars’ experience.”
Another new addition, the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre, is a more intimate black-box theater. It holds 200 people and will provide a more versatile viewing experience than the larger Engelstad and the existing 750-seat indoor Randall L. Jones Theatre.
The Southern Utah Museum of Art, located on the northwest side of the square, adds another important center for the arts to Southern Utah. The museum, though not directly part of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, will house art exhibits from around the world and be run primarily by graduate students.
“We’re excited just to have it here,” Stavros says. “It’s going to be great for our guests to have this beautiful, wonderful art museum literally feet from the theaters.”
Same and Different
Frequent visitors to the Utah Shakespeare Festival will notice that even with all the changes, their experience will feel much the same.
“It’s still a great theater experience in amazing spaces in Southern Utah,” Stavros says. “We still have wonderful volunteers and ushers, we will still host The Greenshow, and it will still be more than just a night at the theater. All of those things will be just like they always have been.”
Other improvements to the venue are the new centralized ticket office that will allow visitors to purchase all tickets at the same place instead of moving from venue to venue.
Preview performances in the Engelstad Theatre began in June and the center officially opened July 7.
The newly constructed theaters, rehearsal halls, commons, offices, gardens, art museum and other buildings that now call Southern Utah University home are not named William Shakespeare World, though that would be appropriate.
By Breanna Olaveson
Photos courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival
Shakespeare Festival Debuts New Venues