Creede Repertory Theatre
With the decline of the mines, the city of Creede needed a new source of income and quickly, too. The Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) met with pastor Jim Livingston and brainstormed about how to secure an attraction for summer visitors with the hope of stimulating business activity. Pastor Livingston loved the theatre and, out of that love, a vision for Creede was born. They agreed to bring performances to the old opera/movie house. But to have performances, they needed performers, which were hard to find in the mining community. Still determined, the Jaycees drafted a letter and mailed it to various universities, hoping that some excited students would answer the call to help build a summer theatre. One of those letters was posted on a bulletin board at the University of Kansas. Steve Grossman, a theatre student, saw the letter, took it down, and answered it. It was the only response the Jaycees received.
Under the direction of Steve Grossman (age 19), 12 students drove from KU to Creede. The Jaycees joined them, and with $32 in the bank, they mounted the first season. Program ads were sold, the hardware store established an open line of credit, and the 12 tireless students rehearsed. When they weren’t rehearsing, the KU students built the scenery, sewed the costumes, found or made props, lit the stage, and sold tickets for $1. The opening show, Mr. Roberts, electrified the Creede audience and received an enthusiastic standing ovation. Most people in that audience had never seen live theater. The KU students went on to mount four more plays: The Bat, Our Town, The Rainmaker, and Born Yesterday (a new play every week!) and ran them all in repertory.
This founding company of 12 established three important keystones of CRT: a repertory schedule, a meaningful variety of plays, and the creation of an ensemble. This still holds firm more than 43 years later. The rotating repertory schedule constitutes one of the most exciting and challenging ways to present a season of plays. It allows a visitor to Creede to see five or six different plays in a week. Such programming is difficult to do; however, and only a handful of theaters in the United States currently attempt this rigorous schedule.
For more than 45 seasons, visitors and theater practitioners alike have made their pilgrimages to Creede for the beauty and the artistry of the CRT. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our patrons, there is now an extended fall season, which plays through September. With the closing of the Homestake Operation in 1984, Creede’s last mine, the theater has become the largest summer employer—over 60 company members in 2009. The economic goals of the Jaycees have been realized as well. Today the CRT has an annual economic impact of $2,749,000 locally and $4,114,000 to the state of Colorado.
CRT is leading the way as stewards for our environment in the performing arts with the construction of our new Second Stage performance space.
- 60-panel, roof-mounted photovoltaic system provides energy even when building is not in use.
- Two-unit Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system specifically designed to address both peak volume needs for short amounts of time and low volume needs for long amounts of time.
- On-demand hot water units, motion sensor lighting, passive solar design, and above-required insulation.
Normally, a space this size (5,000 square feet) would only require a single unit HVAC system, but because performance venues operate at high peaks for short amounts of time (200 people for two hours followed by two people for ten hours), a two-unit system was the most appropriate and efficient choice. This system allows the performance space, which has high demands for quick heating and cooling, to be on a different zone than other areas of the building which have more even heating and cooling demands. We will also be using evaporative cooling, a method that has many benefits over traditional air conditioning systems which use refrigerants considered to be harmful to the environment. Not only is evaporative cooling less expensive to install and operate, it requires less energy, is relatively easy to maintain, and is most effectively used in dry climates such as ours.
While a two-unit system costs more than a single-unit HVAC system ($90,000 versus $155,000), cost savings can range from 33–66 percent based upon the air temperature in a year. Providing a more evenly conditioned effect, this system has the further benefit of zoned heating and cooling, controlled by multiple thermostats (located both on and off site). This will allow us to heat and cool the lobby, bathrooms, and dressing rooms separately from the stage and audience seating. This system incorporates make-up air units (MAUs)— a larger air handler that conditions outside air— with an integral carbon dioxide monitoring system for recirculation of air. This allows us to effectively improve climate control for our patrons without unnecessarily using more energy to ventilate a space for maximum capacity when it is filled to only a percent of capacity.
The two-unit HVAC system is just one component of the CRT’s sustainable energy plan for this venue. Because of our high mountain location, we have both the benefit of 300 clear-sky days and the downfall of existing in a region that requires heating seven to eight months out of the year. Therefore, we first took advantage of the sunshine by positioning the lobby of the building (the only space featuring windows) on the west side of building to provide the benefit of “daylighting” the lobby. Additionally, we have installed a light silver roof, as lighter colored roofs use 40 percent less energy for cooling than a building with a darker roof. With conventional heating systems for this region being relatively expensive, we looked next at reducing heating costs, specifically through insulation. R-Value is the efficiency of insulation, and a well-insulated building can reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the space to achieve the same temperature. If installed as drawn by Semple Brown Design, our exterior envelope will exceed the 2003 International Energy Code for Climate Zone 17, which calls for a minimum of R-13 for walls; all of the walls and roof are a minimum R-19 and range up to R-30 in some places. Other energy efficient features of this building will include on-demand hot water heaters and motion sensor lighting equipment in low traffic areas (bathrooms, dressing room, and storage spaces). As a small, rural non-profit, we are striving to reduce our production of greenhouse gases by making energy conscious choices.
Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. (during our season)
June through September (summer/fall)
$17-$32 Ticket Price Range