Our Amazing Venues:


Theatre at the Great Estates Series!

As both our indoor and outdoor shows are so unique, ISE audience members often drive to our shows from a good distance away, to check out what we do next and because all too often, the unusual type of theatre we specialize in is not available locally.  So we often get inquiries about our venues and about the type of theatre we do - find some answers here in so far as indoor venues go!

Because whether indoors or outdoors, The Iowa Shakespeare Experience seldom presents the type of theatre where an audience sits passively in some dark box and watches a show from afar.  Instead, we specialize in theatre that is an "experi-sense!" 

Our brand of the dramatic fine arts engages audiences in unique- and uniquely memorable- ways.  Whether ISE audiences luxuriate on a picnic blanket while catching FREE summer Shakespeare under the stars, or whether the audience has plunged into one of our "Theatre at the Great Estates" shows --where our shows and an historic Mansion or two become one living breathing experience of history and a story in an ultra-real setting, you can bet that ISE audiences will have an experience they will long relish - - and (we are told) will forever remember.

In sum, ISE specializes in a very, very challenging form of theatre called "Found Space" theatre- theatre created for and within spaces not normally used for theatre- and almost always not designed for theatre.  Heck- we don't just specilalize in this difficult theatrical approach - we thrive on it!  As founders of central Iowa's Salisbury House theatre series and the Terrace Hill Governor's Mansion theatre series, we now regularly work with any number of very special venues to create shows.

From theatre created for various events in private homes, to theatre designed for the Joie de Vie Tea House, to our hallmark historically-based shows at historic homes such as Jordan House, the Rollins Mansion, and our longrunning series (our 10th season!) at Terrace Hill, with now over a decade of successful, award-winning experience under our belts, our work in this area has grown and grown and grown.  In particular, our robust and longstanding collaborations with other non-profits such as the region's historic mansions and museums extends the mission of both ISE and of historic preservation - expanding both audiences and exposing an eager NEW audience of people to theatre who may not typically attend. 

Today, ISE now accepst contracts for traveling shows from the Red Oak Fine Arts Series to projects we've done in Sioux City, and we increasingly travel across Iowa and the region, on both public and private contracts, to produce our one-of-a-kind shows. 

However, our most well-known shows tend to take place with frequency at the following terrific places.  Below, you will find a brief break-out of information about some of our more frequent venues- with more information and photos also coming soon!



and frequent show venues


THE PROGRAM: Theatre at Terrace Hill: the Iowa Governor's Mansion:  Proably one of the most rare theatre projects in the country since the work is performed directly in association with the Office of the State's First Lady ...directly within the historic Mansion where Iowa's Governor's reside. ISE's work at Terrace Hill has been as diverse as it has been extremely successful.  Now in our 10th show at Terrace Hill, we have provided (as its founder) the Mansion's Victorian Voices theatre series outdoors in the Mansion's gardens, where we have presented Jane Austin, Oscar Wilde, and similar historically based authors.  And, each Christmas, we also present the Charles Dicken's story "A Christmas Carol" inside 7 different rooms of the Mansion - a simply spectacular show where the audience moves from room to room during the time of year when the Mansion is at its sparkling best - all decked out in its Holiday Finery.


THE VENUE: About Terrace Hill:  Considered the finest example of Victorian architecture of its era west of the Mississippi, Terrace Hill is a stunning large red brick Mansion perched high on a hill overlooking the city of Des Moines.   Its interior, of many types of exotic woods, features a magnificent one-story stained glass window, fine oil paintings, priceless antiques ...and numerous advanced home design innovations not usually seen in the times. 


THE PROGRAM: Cabaret Macabre and Shakespeare-on-our-Lawn at Historic Jordan House Mansion:  We keep on getting asked back to Jordan House- and we keep on going, because this secluded estate is truly one of Des Moines's best kept secrets - and a marvelous place to perform!  Whether it is spread out under the tall shady oaks performing picnic-style Shakespeare on the cool green lawn --or inside the stunning parlors where we often present some of the masters of Gothic fiction in one of Iowa's most impressive Gothic Victorian mansions, you will find that "Something Wicked This Way Comes!"  Wicked GOOD - or - - just plain WICKED!  ISE events at Jordan House will haunt you - - Don't miss 'em! We'll go back as often as our time allows!


THE VENUE: About Historic Jordan House:  Home of one of the founders of West Des Moines and a signifcant stop for the Underground Raiload of iowa, Historic Jordan Mansion has played a distinct role in much of Iowa's early history- and in the nation's.  The House has been beautifully restored- right down to the historic wallpapers which grace several of its rooms.


THE PROGRAM: Shakespeare in the Rose Garden - and other indoor series - are programs which showcase the stunning Rollins Mansion with its view of downtown --and make this extraordinary Tudor Mansion come alive like never before.  This is truly THE most English place you will find here in Iowa without cross the pond- and an ISE event here is at once supremely elegant and yet warming welcoming, too - - all in perfect balance!  When Rollins Mansion opens its stunning doors, we can all walk in and feel we are in the very lap of luxury- yet still, right at home! So watch for us to go back to Rollins Mansion as often as funding allows!


THE VENUE: About Historic Rollins Mansion:  Overlooking the city skyline from its perch high on a hillock on the near South side of Des Moines, the Tudor-style Rollins Mansion features an extraordinary Rose Garden, fountains and a sunken garden pool - - plus a series of ultra-luxuious interior rooms featuing wood carvings of which no two are alike. One of the many esciting elements of the structure are the historic beams which comprise part of the Mansion.  These beams were imported from an Inn in England, under which Shakespeare himself is said to have performed!



The following great venues are also being added to our growing list!

(For those purchasing tickets, find more information about driving and parking directions on your ticket sales "Overview" page - just scroll down!

THE PROGRAM:  Cabaret Macabret and "Dracula Evermore: Diaries of the UnDead"

As we grow our extremely popular Dracula program, we find more and more venues want a chance to host The Count!  Our newest venues are wonderful - such as:

Historic Randleman House in Carlisle- a 3 story Manse with impeccable interior restoration -including some of the most amazing gingerbread brackets we've ever seen.  With a history of providing incredible hospitality such as scratch-cooked suppers for pre-show Galas, Randleman House is increasingly THE place in the southern suburbs for theater and cultural programs under development by ISE!

Historic 1884 Scheuerman House - Downtown Des Moines' "secret" haunted Mansion!  Complete with the type of Gothic Tower that brings to mind the most classically wonderful haunted houses of your imagination, and supremely well located in downtown's small business district of Sherman Hill near Hoyt Sherman auditorium, this estate welcomes you to an under-rennovation exterior that for all the world is everyone's fantasy of a haunted Mansion.  But once inside its door- voila! - an extraordinary rich and fully restored world unfolds of glorious antiques, incredible woodwork and Grand Staircase- and even original stained glass windows.  All of which serves as an incomparable backdrop to our show scenes -performed with intimate salon style in this private home seldom open to the public- but open to you through the work of ISE!

Historic ArtsCentral Church Building, in Waukee:  A wonderfully atmospheric old turn-of-the-century church that is perfect place for an intimate theatre-in-the-round performance of our shows! 

Historic Fourth Street Theatre at Java Joes Coffeehouse, downtown Des Moines:  For those who prefer a more minimalist, contemporary approach to theatre, don't miss our shows here - often performed in partnership with FTM Concert Productions.  You'll catch a cool coffeehouse vibe in this bustling downtown location - and of course ISE sets the location on its ear- we do theatre-in-the-round here- a style not normally seen in this particular (and popular!) venue!







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