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Evanston has failed so far to turn a city-owned building on Howard Street into the home base for a theater company — but a student group will be performing there for a three-week run starting this weekend.

And, their first show, Friday night, is sold out.

The production is part of a festival of three plays produced at unconventional locations by masters students in the university’s theater under the name S.I.T.E. — or Surprising Intersections of Theatre in Evanston.

At 727-29 Howard St. the students will stage “Far Away” by British playwright Caryl Churchill.

At Temperance Beer Company, 2000 Dempster St., they’ll produce “American Dead” by Chicago playwright Brett Neveu.

And the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course will be the setting for “Thou Proud Dream” co-written by Northwestern MFA student director Damon Krometis and Northwestern alumna Jenni Lamb. 

“We have an ongoing and growing commitment to looking at the relationship between education art and our community,” says Michael Rohd, the NU theater professor who’s mentoring the student effort. “Doing site-based theater work in our community is a way to build relationships outside of our program and beyond the walls and boundaries of our campus.”

Rohd says he hopes the project will “expand on existing relationships and build new ones, so our students and our program are more deeply rooted in the community where we all reside.”

The Howard Street property has a minimal stage left over from its former use as a storefront church.

Efforts to bring a professional theater company to the space stumbled when estimates to renovate the property nearly tripled to $1.7 million.

More information about the festival is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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