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A Noise Within Celebrates Fundraising Milestone

March 9, 2010

Glendale’s year-round classical repertory company is about to be Glendale’s no more. The company, now in its 18th season, has reached the $10 million mark in its capital campaign for a new theatre space in Pasadena. “We’re down to the last $3.3 million,” co-artistic director and co-founder Geoff Elliott told the audience just before Saturday’s opening performance of Much Ado About Nothing. “Don’t worry,” he added with a wink, “if you haven’t contributed yet to our capital campaign, we’ll be in touch.”

Striking the $10 million mark enables the company to move forward with plans that the couple hardly imagined in 1992 (see rendering, left).

 Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott started A Noise Within (ANW) that year with $3,000 from their savings. “Now, with more help than we can begin to mention, we can realize this dream of a state-of-the-art theatre and learning facility,” Rodriguez-Elliott says. Groundbreaking could occur as early as mid-April. “It all comes down to getting that final permit from the city of Pasadena.”

When ANW looked for space to rehearse its first production in 1992 (Tennessee Williams’ Period of Adjustment), the Elliotts were put in touch with Robert and Dennis De Pietro, whose family owns the c. 1930 Masonic Temple building. The two agreed to let ANW rehearse there while it staged the performance at the Boy Scouts’ auditorium. Once that run ended, and the Elliotts asked the De Pietro’s for permission to rehearse Shakespeare’s simple, little play, Hamlet, Dennis and Robert said, “You’ve got the keys, why not just perform here, too?” The arm-twisting was minimal, Geoff Elliott says, and ANW had its home.

In his pre-show address Saturday, Elliott acknowledged the De Pietro family in the audience. “If it were not for these wonderful friends, partners, and patrons,” he said, “we literally would not be here today. We owe our history to them.”

A view looking west in front of the former Stuart Pharmaceutical building (c. 1958), designed by award-winning architect Edward Durell Stone. The theatre will be built above and behind this section.

The new theatre will provide about three times as many seats as the current venue. Those 300 seats will provide enough space for the Elliotts to continue to engage students, one of the company’s top priorities.

Rodriguez-Elliott says, “We currently serve 10,000 students from 6th grade to college. Our new space will let us double that number, giving students greater access to education resources for the great works of classic literature.”

ANW will house an education resource center – The Classics Live! Learning Center – for teachers and students. It will include a library of audio-visual resources, study guides, reference material, and curricula all designed to bring the classics to life. There will be an opportunity to explore the plays, language, history, and culture of Shakespeare’s England through weekly courses with A Noise Within resident artists.

While there is a once-popular ballroom upstairs, the Masonic Temple was never intended as a theatre. ANW sets are constructed in the basement, then disassembled into four-foot by eight-foot sections, and then carried by hand up several flights of stairs, where they’re reassembled on stage. The new facility will make set construction far easier.

Pens are out, not to rewrite history, but to amend it. ANW’s board, Elliott says, is actively pursuing the remaining $3.3 million required to fully fund construction of the Pasadena theatre. In the meantime, Julia Rodriguez-Elliott says she’s too busy, really, to think much about what they’re leaving behind. “Memories, a lot of those,” she says.

Metro Gold Line’s Sierra Madre Villa station along the 210 Freeway is a few hundred feet south of the building site. A bridge connects the terminal with public parking. The new theatre will sit directly north of (to the left in photo) of the garage.


Residential leases are available in the Stuart complex, adjacent to the theatre space.  


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