Community Theater Taking Huge Stride in Its Move To Century II

Wichita Eagle and Beacon, January 5, 1969

Wichita Eagle and Beacon 1969 JAN 05

Wichita Eagle and Beacon 1969JAN05_image1

Community Theater Taking Huge Stride in Its Move to Century II

From the corner of Topeka and Central to the theater of Century II doesn’t seem far, when measured in terms of city blocks.

Yet the Wichita Community Theater has traveled quite a distance in the 22 years since its first play was staged in the old Unitarian Church at the first named address to its new performing home at Century II.

In 1946 it was called the Experimental Theater, andthere was no charge for admission to plays. Contributions were placed in milk cartons, and the church’s auditorum seated 185.

Throughout its 22-year history, other changes of note have taken place. In 1950, the name of the organization was changed to Wichita Community Theater. And two years later performances were moved to Wilner Auditorium at the University of Wichita.

In many respects there will be even more changes when WCT moves to Century II this month. Beginning with “Royal Hunt of the Sun,” each
production will be presented for eight nights, instead of the
usual run of five.

The JAN. 15 opening performance will add one night to the running time of WCT’s first production in Century II. “This will be a special night for use of the city,” said Martin Umansky, WCT business manager.

Although no plans have been made to add to the number of plays given during a season (now there are four), “we have the right to do that,”
Umansky said. “We have first call on dates, so we can plan our season before anyone else.”

Umansky sees several advantages to the move from Wichita State University to Century II. He cites the new location as a “smaller
theater” which is “more intimate.”

By “being more centrally located, it will be easier for everyone to come,” he said. “The location will encourage city visitors to see the plays.”

The greatest advantage of making the move, according to WCT director Mary Jane Teall, will be a technical one. “The lighting will be better,”
she said. “And it will be a convenience to have a scene shop in the same building.”

“The lighting equipment at Century II is far advanced over many new theaters,” said Larry Klein, technical director for WCT. It’s “flexible, artistic lighting,” he said.

“Now we operate from three places,” said Mrs. Teall, referring to the workshop at 258 N. Fountain, where rehearsals are held, Wilner Auditorium and the scene shop at 1935 S. Mead

As Mrs. Teall explained it, “By having the scene shop at Century II, It will eliminate having to hire a truck on a night when the temperature is below zero, and getting a crew of volunteer men whom ages range from 60 to 16 to load and drive it 10 to 15 miles at 2 or 3 in the morning.”

Copyright 1969, Wichita Eagle and Beacon