a New Role

Austin theater raises the curtain on expansive east side performance venue

Austin theater raises the curtain on expansive new performance venue

Austin Playhouse rendering
Austin Playhouse is hoping to break ground in late 2019. Courtesy rendering
Austin Playhouse Anderson Lane Producing Artistic Don Toner and Artistic Director Lara Toner Haddock
Producing artistic director Don Toner and artistic director Lara Toner Haddock. Courtesy photo
Austin Playhouse land Anderson Lane
The theater will be situated on a 2.8-acre plot. Courtesy photo
Austin Playhouse rendering
Austin Playhouse Anderson Lane Producing Artistic Don Toner and Artistic Director Lara Toner Haddock
Austin Playhouse land Anderson Lane

A popular Austin theater is staging perhaps the biggest production in its history — construction of a permanent performance space. In early April, Austin Playhouse paid nearly $1.3 million for a 2.8-acre plot at 1717 E. Anderson Ln., where it’ll build its new home.

The glittering new theater will feature a 227-seat performance venue, a 99-seat performance venue, and possibly a smaller “black box” space.

“A permanent, sustainable home will give this veteran arts organization security and an opportunity for growth. It will also allow us to serve as a performance home for other arts organizations,” says Lara Toner Haddock, artistic director of Austin Playhouse.

A $1 million anonymous donation and a short-term loan from Comerica Bank financed the land purchase.

Currently, Austin Playhouse occupies a 143-seat venue at Austin Community College’s Highland campus. The organization’s lease there runs through June 2021.

Groundbreaking for the Anderson Lane site, adjacent to U.S. Highway 183 South, is planned for late 2019. The new location could be completed in early 2021, Haddock says. Scott Ginder of Austin-based Forge Craft Architecture + Design is the project’s architect, and Austin-based Civilitude LLC is the civil engineer.

During construction, Austin Playhouse — nearing the close of its 19th season — will seek to raise another $700,000, Haddock says. The building campaign will continue until the construction loan is paid off.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our contributors, who understand the vital importance of permanent homes for Austin’s artistic community. We also feel a great responsibility to make sure this venue meets the needs not only of Austin Playhouse, but of as many local arts organizations as possible,” Haddock says.