Efforts to Save John Johansen’s Stage Center
By: Emily Rinaldi
John Johansen’s Stage Center in Oklahoma City, OK stands in disuse and disrepair. Originally called the Mummer’s Theatre, the building was closed in 2010 after suffering considerable damage when the theater’s basement flooded. Built in 1970, the Stage Center is composed of three separate structures connected via ramps, tunnels, and tubes that frame an open, central space. The exterior is a series of raw concrete forms, punctuated by brightly colored corrugated steel in red, blue, yellow and orange.
Johansen describes this design as having “an order that is adopted from the electronic organization of elements.” It is a massing of available materials that puts the viewer at the center of its spectacle. The Stage Center houses two theaters, a 580-seat thrust stage theater and a 210-seat round stage theater, as well as a smaller third unit used for offices and rehearsal space. In 1972, the AIA presented Johansen with the National American Institute of Architects Honor Award for the building’s design. That same year, MOMA accepted the building’s model into its permanent collection.