Monday, May 14, 2012

The History of Sponberg Theatre

Ken StevensDirector of "The 39 Steps" , was the head of the 1980's campaign to build the Sponberg Theatre from the ground up and has produced countless performances within the space since.  All it took was a little bit of hard-work, some celebrity power, and one helicopter...


1970's
  • Dr. Harold E. Sponberg is President of EMU and heads the initiative to create scholarships for the arts.
  • EMU Forensics Team wins National Championship ('73, '75, '76, '77, '78, '79).
  • Ken Stevens and his pal, Bob McElya, joked about putting a bubble over the outdoor performance space to create a Garden Theatre. 


1980-1983
  • John Porter becomes President of EMU and sends out a call for proposals for capital campaigns at EMU.
  • Ken writes proposal for Sponberg Theatre - a 200 seat facility that could be used to extend EMU Theatre programming, hold national Forensics competitions, and other campus events.
  • A firm in Chicago deems Sponberg Theatre as the campaign that is most likely to succeed.
  • The Department Head of the Communication and Theatre Arts Department, Dennis Beagen, backs the project along with Porter.
  • Ken is asked to head the campaign.
  • Ken seeks to secure the project with large donors before taking the project public.
  • Enough funds are secured to make the campaign public.
  • Carol Channing agrees to announce the campaign to the public ONLY if she can be flown to EMU by helicopter.
  • Ken meets Carol on COBO Roof, takes a helicopter to EMU, and lands where our current Student Center is located.
  • Carol announces the campaign and buys the first two chairs of Sponberg Theatre.



1984
  • Enough funds are raised to break ground.
  • Ground is broken.


2012
  • On June 1st, Ken Stevens will present The 39 Steps in the Sponberg Theatre.
  • Ken talks about his love for the space, "It's open, the size is right, and there is a sense of intimacy. You can do a range of productions. As a director, it is always a challenge to find a way to do a show in an unorthodox setting

Past productions that have taken place in Sponberg: 
Into the Woods, Brecht on Brecht, Little Me, Dead Man's Cell Phone, and many many more.


TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY IN THE SPONBERG THEATRE BY LEAVING A COMMENT BELOW!

3 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. OMG MUST FIX NOWZ. And I did. (This is Marissa speaking, obviously). THANKS LIZ!

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete