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Artistic partnership with Pablo Center provides possibilities for UW-Eau Claire students

| Andrew Salvaterra (story); Glen Mabie (video)

Photo caption: A growing partnership between UW-Eau Claire and Pablo Center at the Confluence creates exciting learning opportunities and opens doors professionally for Blugold theatre majors.

The doors open to a nationally recognized arts facility. Inside, performers rehearse on the 1,000-plus-seat Broadway-style stage. Next door, ideas develop in the hybrid black-box theater, one of the five largest in the country.  

Artists dart around the costume shop creating intricate pieces as the sounds of set creation spill out of the scene shop.

Upstairs, classes gather to learn new techniques and perfect their craft in the numerous rehearsal halls.

This isn’t New York City, Los Angeles or even Chicago. These experiences are found daily in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire music and theatre arts department.

The university was a founding partner in the Pablo Center at the Confluence project. The $51 million complex brought a state-of-the-art performance facility to the Chippewa Valley. It offers one of the country’s five largest flexible space theaters, a proscenium theater three times larger than any previously in the area, art galleries, recital halls, workspaces, classrooms and much more.

Pablo Center costume shop

These spaces allow UW-Eau Claire to offer students abundant instruction and performance opportunities, helping them find and grow their artistic voice.

The theatre arts programs provide students with wide-ranging instruction in various disciplines within the field.

Arthur Grothe, artistic director of theatre, says, “They can start right away. In fact, our major is geared to students being involved right in their first year.”

Theatre students work on all aspects of five yearly mainstage shows. This includes performance, stage management, costumes, sets, audio and video and more. Guided by the program’s experienced faculty and made a reality through student contributions, productions are offered for campus and community audiences.

Acting class at Pablo Center

Shasta Reese, a senior theatre arts student from Appleton, says, “When I first came here, I wanted to be a performer, but then I got pulled to other parts of the theater.”

Students receive high-impact opportunities working with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as professional experience in state-of-the-art facilities on and off the stage.

Elizabeth Tanner, acting instructor, says, “They get hands-on experience. They’re not just watching someone else do it and learning it; they’re actually doing it.”

The goal of the program is to nurture a broad base of skills. This helps create sought-after graduates in a competitive profession.

Emily Afdahl, a fourth-year musical theatre student from Lakeville, Minnesota, says, “What sets Eau Claire apart is the opportunities; you get to do everything.”