Tallgrass Theatre Company searches for new home after 13 years at Rex Mathes Auditorium.
West Des Moines, IA – This holiday season, Tallgrass Theatre Company (TTC) has one item on their Christmas wish list: a new home. After 13 years using the auditorium at Rex Mathes School in West Des Moines, the organization’s board of directors received news in October 2019, that their lease would be coming to an end following the 2019-2020 school year.
TTC was founded in 2002 by Jessie Phillips and James Stephenson. At the time, Phillips and Stephenson discussed the idea of starting a theatre company that, like the tallgrass prairies of Iowa, has deep roots within the state. Like the rebirth of the tallgrass prairies from year to year, Tallgrass Theatre stays fresh with constant change, with a firm and steady base of supporters.
In 2006, TTC moved into the under-utilized Rex Mathes School auditorium. Contracting with the West Des Moines Public School District, TTC was able to finally settle into a permanent home. TTC made several renovations to the mostly empty auditorium, which took the space from a barren stage with very little technical support to a fully-functioning theatre performance space. Over the years Tallgrass has added thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, such as an overhead pipe grid system to hang stage draperies, scenic elements, lighting instruments and sound equipment. In 2010 TTC, took the small 9ft. deep x 25ft. wide stage and expanded it to 20ft. deep x 25ft. wide, opening up many possibilities for staging theatrical performances. During the 2017-2018 season, Tallgrass campaigned to raise $30,000 to upgrade their theatrical lighting inventory to all-new, state-of-the-art LED fixtures. TTC exceeded their goal, raising more than $34,000, which all went to the new LED lighting system and console board. In that same season, it became apparent that with the continued growth of Tallgrass, Rex Mathes would not be large enough for the long-term goals of the organization. At that time, TTC launched the official search for a new home, and Tallgrass hosted Home for the Holidays: an Evening with Gina Gedler and Steve Berry, which kicked off the fundraising efforts for a new home.
In October 2019, the TTC board of directors was informed by the West Des Moines Public School District that all long-term rental contracts (including TTC) would not be renewed after this current school year. Therefore, at the end of the current 2019-2020 season, Tallgrass Theatre Company will no longer be located at Rex Mathes Auditorium. As the search for a new home becomes more critical, the TTC Board of Directors and Trust, the two governing bodies for the organization, are fully committed to finishing out the current 2019-2020 season strong; while continuing to plan for the exciting future of TTC.
Tallgrass will move into their new home, bringing all their technology and equipment purchased over the last 13 years. This includes everything from the new LED lighting system, the sound system, stage draperies, the pipes for hanging equipment, etc. Tallgrass is a theatre in a box – all equipment can be transitioned into a new space, where TTC will continue to expand theatrical offerings, while remaining West Des Moines’ community theatre.
Tallgrass welcomes any information on a possible new home in the city of West Des Moines. Donations to support TTC’s ongoing work can be made by visiting www.tallgrasstheatre.org/donate. For additional information or to learn more about the TTC new home search, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.