Long before Richard Biever became the executive director of downtown’s The State Theatre, a study found that only 20 percent of Penn State students knew about his beloved theatre, he said.
Today, The State Theatre’s open house aims to change that.
Running from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., The State Theatre hopes to get students interested in what the theater can offer them — besides the free popcorn that will be provided at the open house, Biever said.
The State Theatre is a nonprofit community theater that holds two film classes a week. While almost one thousand students go through its doors every week, Biever said, “it’s the same students.”
State College resident Valerie Smith, Penn State class of 2011, said that she had friends who went to shows at The State Theatre but said that she does not know much about the venue.
“I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never actually been. I’ve always felt like there was nothing for me to see, at least that I knew about,” she said.
The State Theatre is located across the street from the university but is not connected to it, Biever said.
“I’ve heard of The State Theatre and I walk past it often. I’ve never seen a show there though, but I’d like to,” said Katie Derkits (senior-journalism).
That is the mindset that is the genesis for the open house, Biever said.
Certain events are well attended by students, but given all of that there’s still a huge unawareness about The State Theatre, Biever said.
Biever said he thinks the State Theatre has the best venue to see concerts in because it’s not too big and viewers are really close to the stage and the balcony.
“There’s a lot of good reasons to come and there’s a lot of stuff we do that we think the students would like,” he said. “But people just don’t know about it.”
Students who attend the event should expect to be introduced to the State Theatre. There will be monitors and people standing by to explain what this upcoming season has to offer.
“We have for the first time in the theater’s history created a theatrical season from September to May,” Biever said.
In the past, The State Theatre booked events as the year went on, but it will now be able to show people the season’s entire schedule, which includes a great deal of independent films, concerts and performing arts.
A “Perks Card” will also be available, which will allow students to get a discount on tickets in the future, Biever said.
Also, if a student buys a ticket during the open house for a live event in September, five dollars can be earned toward that event.
The State Theatre has a full-time staff of four people, but boasts 200 events per year, while comparable theaters with an equal number of staff members only put on about 60 events per year. Theaters with a similar amount of shows as the State Theatre house a staff of about 30.
Yet, Biever doesn’t see the lack of staff as a setback.
“We want a lot of stuff happening and a huge diversity in shows every week. [Students] can go to an opera, National Theatre Live from London, an independent film, and a concert, or dance program almost every week,” he said.
The State Theatre is an intimate venue that is unparalleled in the community and the open house aims to show students that, he said.
“It speaks to the diversity of the university as well, not all students are interested in one thing,” he said.
And neither is The State Theatre.