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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood High theater students christen new black box theater with Shakespeare

Mar 11, 2020 12:13PM ● By Julie Slama

Cottonwood High theater students rehearse in their newly remodeled black box theater, which will allow them more possibilities with performances, said school theater director Adam Wilcox. (Abbie Tuckness/Cottonwood High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When patrons come to Cottonwood High’s black box theater to see William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” they will be transported to the 1930s and 1940s in New Orleans.

That’s because with a newly renovated black box theater, theater director Adam Wilcox said his students are able to create more than before.

“With this brand new space, we can create a set with a water feature like a bayou, with plants and life that we couldn’t do in our old space,” he said. “It’s bigger than life; it’s a magical swamp that will be intriguing.”

The comedic show, directed by Wilcox, with costumes by Maddiey Howell, will take place at 7 p.m., March 10–12 and at noon and 7 p.m. on March 14. General admission tickets are $8 and are available at

“It’s chock-full with a ton of kids and parts, and will be the first show opening in the new black box,” he said. “We’re christening it with Shakespeare.”

Wilcox has wanted his students to perform this play for a number of years, but only recently got the idea of tying it to the South after a trip to Disneyland where he and his wife spent time in New Orleans Square.

“This is a story about magic, and we’re now able to do that with voodoo, fairies, Southern creole accents, beautiful Southern debutants and everything inspired by New Orleans. Shakespeare’s been around for 500 years, but what keeps it fresh is the accessibility in the story of love, the story of chance meeting, the story about our actors.”

Renovation on the black box theater began last fall and was complete in early January. It includes new lighting and sound, patron seating, a raised ceiling, new paint, larger area for actors and “revamping of a classroom into a wonderful space that is incredible. It truly is a black box theater now,” Wilcox said. “It feels like a new house when you move in, but it doesn’t quite feel like yours yet.”

Wilcox’s students are also preparing “When She Had Wings” for the regional competition, which will be held in March. In April is the state theater competition, which the drama team has competed in every year since the school opened in 1970, he said.

Recently, his students saw “Every Brilliant Thing,” a production on tour traveling around the state from the Utah Shakespeare Festival. It was part of the opening session of the Utah Theatre Association (UTA) annual conference, hosted at Cottonwood High, in January.

“It’s a huge endeavor to invite and host 2,000 junior high and high school students from across the state, and Cottonwood is one of the few places that has a big enough auditorium,” said Wilcox, who is the UTA president. “It’s a beautiful show that is meaningful and impactful.”

While some students’ questions were answered after the performance, some seniors took the opportunity to attend breakout sessions held at the University of Utah.

“Students were able to listen to professionals from LA and New York, learn about professional theater and talk to each another,” Wilcox said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

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