Community Spotlight: Stage Left brings big theater to a small stage

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The stage is bare at Stage Left in Dixon, Illinois, but not for long. 

The company is in the midst of its fourth season and preparing for its July run of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia.” 

“I’ve always wanted to be able to operate a small theater,” Timothy Boles, Stage Left’s founder and historic director.

The theater is small enough that all the audience members are within 30 feet of the stage, creating the chance for an evening out that Boles said Dixon didn’t have before.

“We wanted to have a great experience for adults, which once they came up the steps to this second story theater they would feel like they left Dixon without leaving Dixon,” Boles said.  

Since starting in 2014, they’ve gained their own following.

“I would say probably even half of our audience in Dixon are not people who probably ever thought about going out to the theater before,” he said.”All four years our attendance has gone up and up every year … It shows that there is a hunger for the arts here.” 

A hunger for shows like last year’s “Death by Design” and their most recent show “The Big Bang.” 

“You want the classic experience and you want something to challenge you,” Boles said.

Boles said they aren’t the typical shows you’d expect to see at a community theater, but he said in Dixon you don’t have to water it down. 

“Just because it’s a small town you don’t have to do that. People will really rise to the challenge and I think are hungry for that kind of meaningful art,” Boles said. 

While he wants his audience to have a fun night out on the town, he hopes his shows teach them something, too. 

“I think for everyone there’s so much to learn when you’re kind of eavesdropping on a part of life that you’re not usually a part of,” Boles said. “We learn our most through story telling — good, honest, emotional storytelling, and that’s what we try to do here.”

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