History and Purpose
Theatre has been an important cultural component and academic lab of Parkland College almost from the beginning. “The Parkland Little Theater’s first production, The Spoon River Anthology, with an all student cast, was presented in the Jefferson Building Auditorium in 1969” (S. Wallace, Parkland Works, 2004). In the 1970s the theatre was a black box space in the C140 area known as the “theatre annex.”
In October 1987, Parkland College opened a brand new proscenium stage theatre with seating for over 300. The opening festival featured the world premiere musical Futures as well as Hamlet Revamped, Modernized and Set to Music and also included Child’s Play touring company. Musical performances included the Parkland Camerata, as well as soprano Erie Mills, and the popular community band Medicare 7, 8 or 9. Since then, many outstanding theatrical productions and Parkland ensemble concerts have been performed in the space.
In the spring of 1999, a Graphic Design class taught by Paul Young was given an assignment to create an original logo for Parkland College Theatre. The chosen logo, which became known as "Thespy," was designed by student Kerri Baker to capture the traditional "everyman" of the theatre history. As Kerri recalls, "by choosing to have the figure reach for a star, it was my intent to show that theatre is always striving for that other worldly place of possibilities, always moving into the future." (Recollections on Thespy email, 10/5/2017). Thespy was retired in 2017 when Parkland introduced a college-wide branding platform.
In 2015 the Parkland College Foundation received a generous monetary donation to support the Theatre from the Miner Charitable Foundation Board. This charitable foundation was established by Harold and Jean Miner. The Miners were lifelong farmers from Watseka in Iroquois County, as well as lifelong supporters of the arts. The theater was named the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre in their honor.
After 28 years of outstanding theatrical productions, a new theatre venue was built. Parkland's Second Stage opened in spring 2015 with a production of The Sparrow. This flexible, black box theatre with seating for 100 has been a wonderful addition for our students and the community.
Parkland theatre continues to be an academic lab for the theatre program and an excellent cultural resource for the community, hosting a variety of theatre productions, concerts, and community events each year.
Theatre Production Archives
Information about past productions is available on Parkland's academic repository, SPARK.