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Prairie Repertory Theatre celebrates a successful season

Prairie Repertory Theatre (PRT), an extension of the theatre program at South Dakota State University, is celebrating a successful 2022 season. The program put on exciting performances and honored the retirement of J.D. Ackman, the former coordinator of theatre and artistic director of PRT.

Prairie Repertory Theatre began in 1970 in Madison, South Dakota. Its mission was to “provide SDSU students with intensive training a repertory system” and “to provide the best entertainment possible for the people of South Dakota.” Both traditions continue today.

Continued growth of the theatre company brought more members and scholarships. Accompanying that growth included several moves between Madison, Brookings and Brandon before finally ending up in the newly renovated Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center.

Through the decades, PRT has proved its value in the region with record-breaking attendances and captivating performances. Those performances continued this 2022 season with four engaging productions, including the classic, “Footloose.”

Billy Wilburn, who took over as artistic director of PRT following J.D. Ackman, said, “It was wonderful to see our patrons coming back to the theatre and adding to the vibrant arts community in Brookings.”

This year PRT added a new program, PRT+, to add to patrons’ experience. This free program included opening night receptions, workshops for children, meet and greets with the casts and backstage tours. This program was a highly successful addition to the productions. “PRT+ lets our patrons see how we produce each production and the magic and hard work behind theatre. It also helps us fulfill our two-part mission to entertain and educate,” stated Wilburn.

Along with a transition of directorship, PRT has seen growth and transition in their board of directors. The original PRT Board of Directors was a 30-member board, incorporated in 1978. Now, the 2022 season brought 10 new faces to the board:

  • Laura Schoen Carbonneau – Brookings
  • Christina Castillo – Aurora
  • Nick Castillo – Aurora
  • Pam Cole – Sioux Falls
  • Phil Kappen – Sioux Falls
  • Jerry Jorgensen – Sioux Falls
  • Emilie Portz – Brookings
  • Ashley Ragsdale – Brookings
  • Donna Wermedal – Volga
  • Kate Wismer – Britton

Jim Wood, artistic director of State University Theatre and Dance, is excited for the additions. “There is such a wide array of experience that, I feel, represents the broader community very well. They all seem very excited to help grow PRT.”

Wilburn echoes that excitement, stating that many of the new board members were also past PRT members.

New board members and new, innovative ideas and programs make the future bright for this historic program. For more information about PRT, visit their website.