Gloucester Stage Company is poised to embark on a major capital and renovation project— and theater officials are reaching out to the community to get input on what form the project should take.
Anyone interested in the renovation that will change the face of the award-winning Gloucester Stage on East Main Street is invited to attend a community workshop at the theater on Thursday.
Epstein Joslin Architects, led by Alan Joslin, will conduct an open design-process workshop during which the public is invited to Joslin and his team to share their observations, ideas and visions about the renovations.
The news of the Stage Company's long-term plans to renovated the space was first reported in the Times earlier this month. The project also comes as the theater is about to open its 32nd season of theater on Cape Ann in the heart of East Gloucester along the waterfront.
"I want to invite anyone interested, or even if you just want to know what's going on, please come," said Gloucester Stage Board Chairwoman Bea Waring. "We welcome neighbors, theatergoers and any citizens in the area to come see what we might be able to do."
The architects overseeing this project are the architects behind Rockport's new Shalin Liu Performance Hall — though Waring, theater Managing Director Andrew Burgreen and Joslin himself all emphasized they will not be building "another Shalin Liu" hall in East Gloucester.
Waring said the project focus — while maintaining a theatre of the same size and with the same seating capacity of about 200 — will be geared toward creating a year-round, full-service stage facility, as opposed to one that hosts the current June to September primary season.
Burgreen said the three-sided seating design in the 190-seat theater will not change. But theater officials are hoping to make better use of the site's vacant interior space. The building had housed a car dealership decades ago.
"We want to learn about what are ideas that the residents may have, and then they will start seeing some of their ideas in the physical models we will do as the process continues," said Joslin. "Every place is unique to its setting, and we will look to make this project unique to its setting.
"We want this building to be celebratory of what it does," he said.
Among the ideas Joslin is exploring is increasing the height of the stage, and possibly using the lower level with the main stage to allow for more diverse stage entrances and effects the theater is not now able to carry out.
Joslin and theater officials also want to explore how to take advantage of the waterfront location along Gloucester's inner harbor, potentially creating a view through to the water from the sidewalk.
Burgreen said he expects the design of the project to become clear over this summer, with Joslin's initial plans expected by the end of September.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes com.
SETTING THE STAGE
What: Community workshops about visions for a renovated Gloucester Stage Co. theater.
When: Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; public welcome
Where: Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main St. The open design workshop will be led by Alan Joslin of Epstein Joslin Architects
Questions: Call Gloucester Stage 978-281-4433.