Amphitheater expected to cost about $276,000

April 13, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Theater began outdoors in Ancient Greece. So it could be said that as Danville prepares to build an outdoor amphitheater in Millennium Park, the city is getting back to where it all began.

The Park Committee has prepared a bid proposal for a stage and grassy seating, and expects it will cost about $276,000 to complete. The bids are expected back this summer, and then the committee will decide if the whole thing will be built at once, or if it will be done in stages.

The committee members discussed the size of the grass bench areas and whether 15 feet or 9 feet worked better for comfortably seating an audience so they could still see the stage and hear performances. They settled on 9 feet.

The committee was enthusiastic about adding another element to the park that would bring out more residents.

Outdoor performances add a festive element for performances, and the audience, said Tony Haigh, a dramatic arts professor at Centre College. "It gets back to the essence of communion," he said, explaining that the more casual atmosphere invites people to bring picnics and for it to be a social event.


From the time theater began and until 1642, performances were done outdoors and in circular arenas. Shakespeare was meant to be done outdoors, Haigh said, and the atmosphere promoted popular theater. The idea of an indoor theater took a hold at the beginning of the English Civil War.

How will the venue add to theater in Danville?

"The more we bring together people in the community, the better the community," Haigh said.

Ann Nichols, executive director of the Arts Commission of Danville-Boyle County, agreed. "It looks like a wonderful opportunity for our community," said Nichols.

She said they are planning to do the Fourth of July celebration at the amphitheater in 2005. She also envisioned local band and choral, dance groups, Arts for Kids and Advocate Brass Band performances at the park.

John Drake, parks and recreation director, said at a recent park meeting that he wished there were more local arts groups involved in the planning of the stage.

The amphitheater will likely seat several hundred people. Construction, on some or all of the facility, will begin after bids are received this summer.

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