Black Swamp Players get new theater after decades without a space

Group plans to renovate space into a black box theater in time for the fall
Group plans to renovate space into a black box theater in time for the fall
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - After decades in the making, the Black Swamp Players finally have a theater space to call its own. The building on E. Oaks Street in Bowling Green was originally a Baptist church. built in the late 1800′s, then later converted into the Plan Do & Talk daycare center.

The theater group has been a staple in Wood County for 53 years, officially raising the curtain on July 21, 1968. The Players have bounced around in different spaces across the county -- from the Veteran’s Hall, to the Woodland Mall, First United Methodist and many more. After many years and missed opportunities, the group was able to purchase the building on E. Oaks. “I can’t even put into words how excited I am, how excited my board is, and I imagine how excited our community is to come out and support us,” said Heath Diehl, Board President for BSP.

Over the next few months, several renovations will be made. The main room will be converted into a black box stage, allowing for different staging opportunities, and seating up to 80 people. There are also plans to add a front office, bathrooms for the patrons, and a wheelchair ramp to make the building accessible. All these renovations are running off of community donations and capital funds from the state, amounting to about $300,000 so far.

“We don’t know all that this building is going to be for Black Swamp Players and for Bowling Green yet,” stated Diehl. “It has so much potential to serve this community in ways that we’ve not yet explored. That to me is the best thing this building has to offer.”

BSP has hosted two socially-distanced shows since March 2020, only one of which was inside the E. Oaks St. space. The group begins its fall season on September 17 with “I Ought to Be in Pictures,” a drama-comedy by Neil Simon. The goal is to have the black box ready by then.

The theater is located on 115 E. Oaks St. To learn more about upcoming shows, visit the group’s website, Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to donate, volunteer of get involved, email president@blackswampplayers.org.

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