Cincinnati Shakespeare Company sets the stage for new OTR theater


The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has started a $17 million capital campaign to construct a new theater/rehearsal/office complex at the site of the former Drop Inn Center at 12th and Elm Streets in Over-the-Rhine, increasing programming from 272 days and nights per year to 360 days and nights per year. CSC has been renting theater and office space at 719 Race St.
 
The theater — which is being named for Otto M. Budig, a longtime CSC patron — will add one more piece to OTR’s arts corridor around Washington Park, joining Music Hall, Memorial Hall and the School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

A large portion of the necessary capital funds were raised during the private portion of the campaign, with only about $4 million still needed to move the project forward.

Plans for the 27,855-square-foot-theater have been about two years in the making and include adding about 100 seats, increasing current capacity from 150 to 244. The thrust stage will jut out into the audience, and the aisles between seats will allow actors to move among the audience during shows. A balcony is planned, but no seat will be further than 20 feet from the stage.
 
On the outside, the building will resemble the National Theater in London with glass walls facing the street, allowing passersby a look inside. The actors’ rehearsal space will also serve as a second theater for smaller performances or special events.
 
The inside will be modeled after the Globe Theater, which was designed by Shakespeare himself. Indoor lighting will mimic starlight, and there will be 38 steps connecting the two floors to represent each of the Bard’s plays.
 
The theater ceiling will be tall enough to allow for multi-level seats and scenery. Currently, sets are constructed outside of the Race Street theater, disassembled and reassembled once they’re inside. There will be an on-site scene shop in the historic Teamsters building that adjoins the Drop Inn site, and the theater will include an actual backstage area, trap space under the stage and wing space with lighting as well as a classroom for educational programming.

For patrons, the Otto M. Budig Theatre will feature a more spacious lobby than CSC’s current location, additional restrooms, a separate box office and a bar. All patron amenities will be in full ADA compliance.
 
Three buildings stand at the site of the Drop Inn Center, which will be demolished at the beginning of the year to make way for Cincinnati Shakespeare’s new home. Construction is projected to begin in April, and the troupe should be able to take possession in July 2017, just in time for the start of its 24th season.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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