‘Game-changer’: Studio 570 finds new home in downtown building

Studio 570 actors rehearse a scene from 2021’s “Twelfth Night” in the upstairs venue at the group’s new home on West Fourth Street in Williamsport. PHOTO PROVIDED

After five years of performing in such unusual places as a nursing home and a fire station, Studio 570 has a new home.

The local theater group has moved into a three-story rehearsal and performance space at 140 W. Fourth St., between Plankenhorn’s and the Clothier.

“It was a fantastic place located right on the best block in Williamsport,” said 570’s Artistic Director Jared Whitford. “It’s a three-level building, which, once completed, will give us three unique and flexible performing spaces.”

In addition to storage, construction space and dressing rooms, the complex offers two indoor venues — a large one downstairs, and a smaller, more intimate space up top — along with the potential for outdoor performances on the property.

“We are currently working on getting our downstairs venue ready,” Whitford told On the PULSE. “But our second-floor area is ready to go.”

“From the practical end of things,” said 570 board member Elizabeth Snow, “it is a game-changer to have a reliable space to house all of our needs. This move is laying the foundation for the growth we have been getting close to achieving over the past five years.”

Founded by Whitford in 2016 with the goal of bringing more innovative theater to Lycoming County, Studio 570 has performed such offerings as “Hamlet,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” — all staged in rented or borrowed spaces, including churches, lawns, parks and restaurants.

“But we couldn’t operate out of bags and boxes anymore,” Whitford said.

Snow agreed: “Living out of other organization’s closets was not sustainable, and we faced difficulties in securing performance spaces in time. It was too much for many local actors to commit to productions with such uncertainties. We are excited for this new level of stability and consistency that we will be able to provide for our actors.”

While the group enjoyed the community partnerships that allowed these off-beat stagings, it will now be able to return the favor.

“We are opening our space up to other local events looking for a venue,” Snow said. “Already we have concerts, comedy shows and drag shows scheduled in 2022. We love that this is giving us a means to partner with other performers in our community through hosting their events.”

So will 570 forsake its penchant for performing in unusual places?

“We’ll still be doing that after 2022,” Whitford said. “This year we are taking the time to get to know our space and do projects there.” 

“Starting off as a found-space theater pushed us to be creative and inventive with our given surroundings,” Snow said. “It definitely taught us resiliency, too, as we were often presented with unique obstacles with each new space. For this season, at least, we will be maximizing the use of our new space while we get established downtown. But you have not seen the last of us in your local hair salons, churches and fields!”

As for the 2022 season: “We are bringing back some favorites this year,” Whitford said, “adding some new programming, and of course expect the traditional Studio 570 shenanigans.”

More information is available at www.studio570.theater, and at the group’s profusely illustrated Facebook page.

Author

  • Joseph W. Smith III is a writer, speaker and teacher in Central PA. His seven books include “The Best Movies You Never Saw” and “The Best of Doug Smith” (a collection of his late father’s writings); both are available at Amazon. Feel free to write to him at robbwhitefan@gmail.com. Or visit josephwsmithiii.com.

Joseph W. Smith III

Joseph W. Smith III is a writer, speaker and teacher in Central PA. His seven books include “The Best Movies You Never Saw” and “The Best of Doug Smith” (a collection of his late father’s writings); both are available at Amazon. Feel free to write to him at robbwhitefan@gmail.com. Or visit josephwsmithiii.com.