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Host Your Event in Shannon Hall or Play Circle

Posted: 03/20/24

Host Your Event in Shannon Hall or Play Circle

The Wisconsin Union Theater (WUT) is home to two unique performance spaces: Shannon Hall and the Play Circle Theater. While these spaces are used to host the 15-20 events WUT programs as part of its annual season, hundreds of other events take place in the venues each year through our rental program. Designed by a wide variety of student organizations, campus partners and community groups, these rental events range from a single speaker  to complete theatrical productions. Take a look at some of the unique events that our renters have presented in Shannon Hall and Play Circle in the past. (And learn how you can rent one of our spaces, too!)

Rental Productions in Shannon Hall and the Play Circle

1. Dance Performance: “The Nutcracker Ballet” | Presenter: Dance Wisconsin

For more than four decades, Dance Wisconsin has hosted a seasonal performance of the famous Nutcracker ballet. In recent years, it has hosted the performance in WUT’s Shannon Hall and has used the nearby Festival Room, which it converts into a large dressing room where sugar plum fairies can be found.  Each year, Dance Wisconsin also uses our spaces to host a reception, welcoming back alumni. Tickets are anticipated to be on sale in November 2024.

2. Theatrical Performance: “Sweeney Todd” | Presenter: UW-Madison University Opera

UW-Madison Opera goes big when using Shannon Hall. Taking advantage of our amazing acoustics and an orchestra pit that’s large enough to seat its 30-piece orchestra, it brings in spectacular sets and all the glory of full-scale opera. In recent years, UW Opera performed the award-winning musical, “Sweeney Todd,” for a packed house.

3. Conference: Cap Times Idea Fest

Originally launched in 2017 as a two-day event, this now weeklong festival takes place across Madison, including in Shannon Hall, where Bernie Sanders spoke in September 2023. The festival features presentations on a wide range of topics, from politics to food. The flexibility of the Shannon Hall stage makes it perfect for the variety of Cap Times Idea Fest events, some which feature a panel seated in classic Memorial Union furniture, others are formal presentations at the lectern with projections, and some are motivational speeches with performers traveling across the stage with the wireless headset mics.

4. Lecture & Discussion: LaFollette Lecture - David Brooks | Presenter: La Follette School of Public Affairs

A former La Follette School journalist in residence, David Brooks is a The New York Times writer and cultural commentator. Each year, the La Follette School of Public Affairs brings in a range of speakers and special guests to offer talks on campus. As guests enter the theater lobby, they’ll witness a memorial on the floor recognizing some of the great humanitarians who have graced Shannon Hall over the years, including Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, Jesse Jackson, Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, and many more.

5. Movie Screening: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” | Presenter: Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Film Committee

Around Halloween, this cult classic makes an appearance in Shannon Hall for fans of  spooky season and cinematography and comedy. WUD Film makes use of our projection package and sound system to bring the rock-n-roll score to life. Come dressed as your favorite character to become a true Rocky Horror fan in fall 2024!

6. Intimate Concerts & Performances in the Play Circle | Presenter: Multiple Registered Student Organizations

The 182-seat Play Circle Theater is a favorite space for many student organizations on campus, who present everything from comedy (Understudies Improv, Manhole Sketch Comedy) and theater (InterMission Theater, Foundland Musical) to music (Jewop A Capella, Barbershop Quartet Club, the Revival Band) and dance (Dancas Dance, Slainte Irish Dance). Play Circle is also the stage for OMAI’s Passing The Mic, which celebrates hip-hop music featuring nationally recognized artists and UW-Madison students on stage together.

Want to Host Your Own Event?

Are you looking to bring in a speaker or host a performance? Our venue rentals are available to campus and the community and work well for comedy shows, lectures, musical performances and so much more. Additionally, we offer special rates for Registered Student Organizations and UW departments. To get started, review our booking policies, and submit an inquiry form.

 Inquiry Form


What is the Wisconsin Union Theater Season?

Each year, students in the Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Performing Arts Committee (WUDPAC) helps curate the Wisconsin Union Theater’s performing arts season. With the support of WUT’s permanent staff, the students curate an intentional and diverse selection of artists and performances. The student committee members choose artists, make offers, book the performers, and help make the shows happen. Check out WUT season events

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