New marquee lights the way to University Theatre

Can’t-miss sign draws attention to increasingly active UBCO performance venue.

A bright new installation at UBCO’s University Theatre is a sign of the times for the burgeoning live-performance culture on campus, and for the growing theatre and music crowd in the Okanagan.

Launched last November, University Theatre is the first dedicated live-theatre space at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

It seats up to 220 people and is housed in the former ADM026 Lecture Theatre in the Administration Building, adjacent to the bus stop.

This week, a 4.8-by-1.65-metre (15.8-feet by 5.5-feet) backlit sign was installed above the theatre entrance, providing a much-needed visual presence for Kelowna’s newest permanent public performance space.

“I’m delighted to see the theatre gain a visual presence near the bus stop,” said Neil Cadger, head of the UBCO department of creative studies  and associate professor of performance.

“This is the first part of the campus that many people see. It should be welcoming and it is absolutely appropriate that the Theatre will be immediately visible.

“People coming to the theatre from downtown will be well-advised to take the bus and not worry about parking. You can’t miss the theatre now when you get off the bus.”

Cadger has been heavily involved in the theatre’s evolution, including production of the new sign, designed with Byron Johnston, an associate department of creative studies professor.

To draw attention to the theatre, they worked with the idea of a marquee.

Johnston suggested chrome-looking metal spheres to replace the lights you might see on vintage cinema marquees, which avoids exposing the light bulbs to the elements.

The finished frame incorporates 38 metal orbs —with one anomaly.

“A single red ball is included to create a sense of serendipity,” Cadger said.

“It connects to the red strip on the top and destabilizes the rectangle in a playful way. It makes people ask, ‘Why is there a red ball?’ It stimulates a question. We like questions.”

University Theatre has been upgraded, renovated, and turned over to students in the performance program in the UBCO Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

The students group, called Theatre 26, is immersed in every aspect of live staging, from performance, to writing, designing promotional material to managing the theatre itself.

With 1,700 students living on campus, there is a ready audience for the regular programming of live theatre, performances, DJ nights and comedy revues, says Cadger.

“UBCO has invested considerable effort and dollars into University Theatre and we will use it to full advantage,” Cadger said.

“Our audiences will be thrilled and entertained, while our students will get a chance to show what they can do.”