History of the Theater Company*
The University of Detroit Mercy Theatre Company has come a long way in the past 30 years. The UDM Theatre Company began in 1972 as a consortium agreement with Marygrove College in an effort to consolidate the two schools' fine arts programs. Originally, productions were staged at the UDM Theatre on Marygrove's campus, but in 1977 the company began staging some of its plays in Theater 100, which was located in Shiple Hall in an effort to encourage dorm students to attend its productions.
In 1979, the consortium agreement ended and the company divided its performances between Theatre 100 and the Paul Robeson Theater in Detroit's Northwest Activity Center. The next year, however, the University began leasing the space at Marygrove College and thinking about creating a new theatre to be housed on its McNichols Campus.
The Studio Theater opened in 1984. Housed in the Architecture building, it was dedicated to Earl D.A. Smith in 1988. Many patrons enjoyed the studio setting, and it presented a unique experience for communication between the actors and the audience.
In 1995, The Theatre Company moved to a new location on the Outer Drive Campus. There, The Theatre Company captivated audiences in the McAuley Auditorium. In this new large venue, students were able to open their learning experience to different techniques than those used in a studio setting, and gain experience with larger audiences.
Both the actors and the audience began to miss the Earl D.A. Smith Studio setting. So, in our '99-'00 season, through a concerted and innovative effort, The UDM Theatre Company developed the OnStage Theatre. The seating arrangement moved onto the stage (thus the name), and brought the audience closer to the performers. It was capable of holding almost 90 patrons, and had no poor seating, being set "in-the-round". Thus, the studio setting returned, giving The Theatre Company a dynamic new way to teach and to perform.
With the move of Outer Drive programs to McNichols in 2004, the UDM Theatre Company has found a temporary home at Marygrove Theatre located on the Marygrove College campus on McNichols Road.
[*Source: "Taking A Bow" by Laurie Peller in Spiritus, Fall 1995]