Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Performing art enthusiasts in the Ainsworth area have a new venue to keep an eye on, after volunteers have converted a former church into a theatrical space.
Alan Allsup was a leading volunteer in the effort. He said the space offered versatility not found elsewhere in the area.
“People that are supporting this, once they come in and see this space, they say, ‘This is what I’ve been waiting for,’” he said. “You can see (three) entrances and exits, it’s just so unbelievably flexible.”
The space can be setup in anything from a conventional stage to an in the round configuration. The plan is to use that variety for shows best fit for the small, intimate venue.
“One of the purposes of theater is the audience leaves differently than they came in,” Allsup said. “That’s a huge motivator, to do quality.”
The church has not served as a place of worship since the ‘80s after its denomination merged with the Ainsworth Community Church next door. Community Church Pastor Jason Collier said he was happy to see it put to use again.
“We’re super excited to partner with Alan and (create) the opportunity for people to come in and unlock their potential through theater,” he said. “We’ve had two buildings in town and we’ve only used one for quite some time, so we’re just thankful that he’s able to use that space, he’s created a beautiful theater environment.”
The space will still continue to serve multipurpose area for church-related activities, according to Allsup.
“It will still be youth group, it will still be church office, it will still be kids club,” he said. “This is not a theater company coming in and saying, ‘Move aside, everybody,’ we do not own it.”
Save for two newly drilled holes, the renovations are all temporary. Lights are mounted on stands or tied to rafters, the stage extension is sturdy but completely removable and chairs can be brought in or out depending on the nature of the performance.
Allsup said it was important to maintain the historical building.
“There’s no way any damage should be given to this building at all, it should be totally respected,” he said. “We are going to be accountable as Christians and we are going to be accountable for what we do in this building.”