UI Quad becomes outdoor theater this summer
Entertainment on the University of Illinois campus is scarce in the summer, officials said.
During the regular school year, students can pick and choose among plays, sports events and concerts. In addition, notable people come to speak on campus – last year brought Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and the Brown sisters from the Brown vs. Board of Education case. But entertainment activity winds down once the majority of students leave Champaign-Urbana in May.
"Our schedule does slow down during the summer," said Tammy Kikta, public information director for Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Division of Intercollegiate Athletics officials said it's standard for summer to be the dead time for watching campus sports and most events don't start again until the fall.
Illini Union Board officials knew there was still a market for entertainment even though two-thirds of the student body leaves the area. The board, which shows movies in Gregory Hall on campus during the year, wanted to continue beyond the spring semester and scheduled four outdoor movies on the Quad in the summer.
"It is not always easy to access the theaters in town if you don't have a car," said Trish Saelens, assistant director of the Illini Union, who said the summer movie program has been happening for years. "Overall, there is a general interest in seeing films."
The four movies the Illini Union Board selected feature a talking donkey, a scary videotape, a titanic con artist and the end of civilization. "Shrek" was the feature film last Thursday, while "The Ring" starring Naomi Watts, "Catch Me If You Can" starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, and "Armageddon" starring Bruce Willis will be shown later this summer. A committee of UI students made the recommendations, picking family-friendly films.
"It is a unique opportunity for students and their families to gather, bring their blanket and enjoy the beautiful summer night," she said. "An average film fills half the Quad with students and families."
The IUB board may consider outdoor musical entertainment for the summer, but nobody has been booked yet, Saelens said.
Assembly Hall officials would thoroughly enjoy hosting events during the summer. They also would like a building with an air-conditioning unit. Director Kevin Ullestad said the lack of air conditioning is the reason the venue does not recruit acts in the summer. The last event at Assembly Hall this year was an early May Fleetwood Mac concert.
"There are tours out there running city to city. We could probably have a couple more shows come in the summer if we had AC," said Ullestad, who does believe there are enough students in the area during the summer to support musical concerts. "The Assembly Hall wasn't originally designed for summer programming of any magnitude."
Installing air conditioning was heavily discussed during meetings earlier this year about Assembly Hall improvements.
"If renovation were done to the hall, air conditioning would definitely be a part of that," he said.
Youth basketball camps are the only activity planned inside the Assembly Hall during the summer, Ullestad said.
"After students left, there will be no more summer programming until September," he added.
While there is not a buffet of activities throughout the summer, there's not a famine either. The Illinois Summer Youth Music Camp features high school students improving their crafts through instruction. The public gets to see the results in recitals and special concerts. The free concerts begin almost simultaneously Saturday with a 10:30 a.m. advance piano performance at Smith Memorial Hall and senior chorus at 11 a.m at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Other performances are scheduled for July 17 and 31. For more information, log onto http://krannertcenter.com/perform/a-z/. and click on "ISYM." In addition, there are academic presentations happening through the summer in various campus buildings.
These are the three remaining movies being shown by the Illini Union Board this summer. They are all free and start at 9 p.m.
Thursday, June 24: "The Ring"
Thursday, July 8: "Catch Me If You Can"
Thursday, July 22: "Armageddon"
You can reach Ernst Lamothe at (217) 351-5223 or via e-mail at email@example.com.