New Home

Tallgrass Theatre Company plans to develop a shared arts venue in West Des Moines, to continue our mission of providing high-quality theatrical programming and educational programs to the community.

Launching our Campaign

Tallgrass Theatre Company (TTC) is developing a shared arts venue in West Des Moines to continue our mission of providing high-quality theatrical and educational programming to the community. The space will allow Tallgrass to grow our programs by increasing the number of productions we can provide each year and enhancing the development of our adult and children’s educational workshops.  

Equally important, other groups will be able to use the space during our “dark” periods. There is a great need for a year-round performance venue in West Des Moines, as currently one of this size does not exist. 

THE SPACE

OUR NEW HOME AT 2019 GRAND AVE. IS APPROX 6,500 SQ FT OF UNDEVELOPED SPACE THAT TALLGRASS THEATRE COMPANY IS TURNING INTO A SHARED ARTS VENUE FOR OUR PERFORMANCES, PROGRAMMING AND OTHER AREA ARTISTS

Our vision is the creation of a black box theatre capable of multiple configurations and uses.  Audiences of 100 to 120 may be accommodated, dependent upon the configuration within the space.

Ultimately, this project will allow: 

  • Creation of performance arts venue within West Des Moines that can provide other community arts partners an inclusive theatrical performance space and can increase coordination and collaboration in the performing arts community. 
  • Expansion of the ever-popular Seedlings Summer Camps to other times of the year and other school breaks 
  • Creation of new adult and children’s workshops to educate on the fundamentals of theatre arts 
  • Creation of an Alternative Programming Series which will include a Script Reading Series and other “workshop” performances of new, experimental, or in-progress works of local or established playwrights (built on the former TTC Iowa Playwrights Workshop) 
  • Expansion of theatrical programming including increasing the number of productions and the number of performances of each production 

Current Status:

The Tallgrass organization is working through City Permit processes to begin construction at 2019 Grand Ave. Suite 100 to open our days later this year. Priority is looking to fund the construction phase of this process to open our doors later this year for the community. With this, we launch our campaign to gather support from the community with supporting our vision of opening Tallgrass Theatre Company’s Shared Arts Venue in West Des Moines.

Join our mailing list and like us on social media to stay current with construction updates and future announcements about Tallgrass Theatre Company.



News about our New Home

November 2020: Tallgrass Announces New Home

Tallgrass Theatre Company is thrilled to announce we have located a new home! That’s right, Christmas has come early this year for Tallgrass. We have a home for the holidays and beyond!

September 2020 Update

Check out the following video on our YouTube page for our September 2020 update on the search for our new home!

Tallgrass Theatre Company searches for new home after 13 years at Rex Mathes Auditorium.

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 newhome@tallgrasstheatre.org.