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Larry MacIntyre
University Communications

Jonathan Michaelsen
Department of Theatre and Drama

Last modified: Friday, September 3, 2010

Indiana University to cease production of plays in Brown County

Sept. 3, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In an effort to provide a more comprehensive training experience for students enrolled in Indiana University's Theatre and Drama program, IU has made the decision to move its summer theater program from the Brown County Playhouse to its on-campus facilities in Bloomington.

"Our residency at the Brown County Playhouse has had a long history, making the decision to relocate to campus extremely difficult," said Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of the IU Department of Theatre and Drama. "We hate to lose the tradition of the Playhouse and our presence in the community. However, it has become increasingly difficult to provide our students with the caliber of professional training they need."

Brown County Playhouse

Brown County Playhouse

"We are training professional artists to enter a very competitive field," Michaelsen said. "Our students must receive the very best opportunities we can provide, designing, building and performing in state-of-the-art facilities. We are fortunate to have these venues on the Bloomington campus."

Further precipitating the decision to move to the Bloomington campus is the ongoing financial impact of the physical facility coupled with declines in attendance and revenue, which have left the Playhouse with a significant operating deficit. "In these times of economic hardship, it has been challenging to continue to support the program at its current level while also trying to find funding for ever-increasing facility costs," Michaelsen said.

"This is a difficult step, taken after much deliberation and consultation," said College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean David Zaret. "Ultimately, Indiana University needs to make decisions based on the best interests of its students and deal responsibly with fiscal realities."

In order to continue the professional training needs of students, IU is developing a summer theater festival on campus. "On campus, we will produce a broader range of material and involve more students because of the variety of venues available. We will have a wider range of potential audiences with the number of visitors who come to campus during the summer for Mini University, orientation for students and parents, conferences and other programs," Michaelsen added.

The Brown County Playhouse was donated to the Indiana University Foundation by Andy Rogers for the purpose of supporting summer theater in Nashville. Rogers is a Nashville businessman and member of the Brown County Playhouse board of directors, along with Michaelsen, Keith Michael, Jack Mulholland and IU Foundation representatives Gene Tempel and John Wilhite. The IU Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Theatre and Drama will work with the board of directors of the Brown County Playhouse and the community of Nashville to find the best and most appropriate use for the facility.

Michaelsen said the Department of Theatre and Drama has received numerous requests to use the Brown County Playhouse space over the years, but that issues of liability and staffing did not make it possible to honor such requests. "This could be a significant opportunity for the community to gain a year-round theater space for a variety of artistic and civic uses," he said.

"We want to thank our audiences and all of those from IU and the Nashville communities who have made our productions possible over the years," Michaelsen said. "Brown County has been very gracious to us, and we will miss this community."