It has taken three long years, but in six weeks a new theatre in Mansfield, OH will be born -Theatre 166, The Black Box Theatre of the Renaissance Performing Arts Association.
Theatre 166 is the brainchild of Renaissance CEO, Mike Miller. Mike has always had theater in his life, so it is no surprise that this latest achievement came from him. A few years ago as he and his son traveled to different college campuses, he saw many Black Box theaters. “Could this be done at the Ren?,” Mike thought. There was talk about adding to the back of the main theatre building, but that idea never gained traction. The building just didn’t have any extra space.
Then, by chance, the Richland County Land Bank had the 166 Park Avenue property. Mike said the moment he walked in, although the building was in absolute shambles, he could envision a performance space. Since it was a Land Bank property, the cost was minimal and the Board agreed to purchase it.
Once they had the building, the building had to be cleaned out. Shaw-Ott Medical brought a large group to do this, and after months the job was done and the design began. The main idea was to make this an “education center” where live bands, live recordings, film and TV mixing and of course, theatre pieces designed for a smaller audience would be performed.
In mid-2016, the construction officially began. Adena Construction installed the largest steel beam they have ever installed inside a building which is not new construction. Walls had to come down to open up the main theater space. Then came electrical and plumbing, HVAC, bathrooms and new walls for smaller rooms. All of the “normal” building requirements were done.
The fun part has happened in the last few months, and will continue even past the opening of The Light in the Piazza in October 2018. The walls have been painted black (hence a “Black Box” theater). Polishing the floor, curtains, lighting, audio, video, risers, seating layouts – it is all being finished up. One thing that will take another year is the recording studio.
Theatre 166 will take the Renaissance Performing Arts Association to a new level. By offering programming which is diverse and eclectic, we can continue to fullfill our mission to enlighten and enhance lives through education and outreach in the community and beyond.