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The Changing Face of Community Theatre

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So we've been working on a new theater for Fort Stockton for the better part of three years now. We just released a progress drawing set (see above) and if all goes according to plan we'll have everything ready to go for construction to begin this fall.

Although the basic organization of the building has remained consistent, if you've been paying attention you'll notice the face of the building has changed considerably over time. At first the taller mass of the theatre itself was clad in weathered metal while the marquee was a more traditional back-lit affair where physical letters could be attached to it:

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Later the color of the theatre was changed to green and the form of the marquee became more streamlined with its underside becoming a backlit plane of light. A LED sign provided information about coming attractions:

After the design was released to the public it was pointed out that green is the color of Fort Stockton's main football rivals and so its color was changed. Currently the marquee's form and material matches that of the buildings around it while a constellation of small LED lights illuminates the entry underneath it:

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In all probability the design will continue to evolve. It's all part of the process and with a project like this there is always a delicate balance between civic aspirations and budget realities. Of course the goal is to make a great new performance space for For Stockton. We're doing that but we also know it's important for the building that houses that space to be a landmark for the city.

Meanwhile in Fort Stockton...

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As you may remember back at the end of 2015 we worked on a schematic design for the Fort Stockton Community Theatre. The group used the conceptual design we produced to start fundraising and two years later they were at a point where they were ready to release us to start producing the final documentation of the design.

And so at the beginning of this year we got back to work for the good people of Fort Stockton. The design has evolved but the concept is still the same as it was in 2015. Their existing building will be renovated into a flexible event space that can be used to host the pre-performance dinners they have become famous for hosting:

The theatre space itself with have seating for 125 people and provide updated lighting and sound systems for more sophisticated performances. It will also provide for a more comfortable experience for those attending the performances:

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And when there is a performance the marquee will bathe the sidewalk in light announcing to those passing by that there is something special happening in Fort Stockton:

It is an exciting time to be in Fort Stockton and we're of course excited to be a part of that.

Taking Stock of Fort Stockton

Last week Betsy and I drove out to Fort Stockton, Texas. In many ways, the drive was a complete disaster. I-10 was shut down due to a pretty horrific accident that delayed us by an hour and a half. In order to make up time so that we wouldn't be late to our lunch meeting, we had to pick up the pace which was a strategy that was not appreciated by a Texas Highway Patrol Officer outside of Sonora. I didn't think a Prius was physically able to get a speeding ticket. Apparently I was wrong.

Despite that, some rain, some hail and a plague of locusts, we somehow managed to pull into Fort Stockton just as the meeting was getting underway. We'd been asked to help the Fort Stockton Community Theatre develop concepts for a new performance space and we wanted to meet with area stakeholders to talk about the current role of the theatre in their community and what they would like to see it become. It was a great wide-ranging discussion about big goals and it was incredibly helpful for us to understand how this group defines itself and how it imagines its new theatre could play a larger role in the Fort Stockton community.

Architecture can't do everything but it can provide the framework for change to occur. The people we spoke with see their new theatre as a way of improving their city - a way to introduce people to the arts who might not otherwise be interested in such things. We feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of this effort and we look forward to working with them to create a facility that fulfills their functional needs while at the same time creating something more something unique to Fort Stockton. We what to help them create a place where young and old like to go to see a play; a place where the rancher and the oilman likes to take their family; a place that is uniquely suited to Fort Stockton; a place that is in the words of one of the participants of the lunchtime discussion, is "West Texas Cool."