Austin Gardens will have a new look this time next year.

Festival Theatre has been missing their beloved barn as they put on a terrific new stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird through June and the first half of July in the leafy amphitheater of Austin Gardens (see Doug Deuchler’s review in Artbeat, page 36).

But there’s hope for next year. The Park District of Oak Park included a taste of things to come in the program book.

“Beginning this September,” they write, “the southern section of Austin Gardens will undergo a major transformation with the addition of the Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center (EEC). … With two indoor classrooms, along with an adjacent outdoor learning garden classroom, this facility will offer immersive, hands-on and interactive programming focused on environmental and sustainability issues.”

Plus restrooms for theater-goers and a place for costume changes? Festival is hoping so.

And that’s the hint: “The park district hopes you will enjoy this new facility when you return in 2016 for Festival Theatre’s 42nd season.”

This is, by the way Festival’s 40th season in Austin Gardens (the first year they were located on Westgate).

Ken Trainor

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