University of South Carolina

Serenbe Playhouse
In the scene shop in May, MFA theater students Brian Clowdus and Daniel Hill, and MFA theater alumna Kimi Maeda, examined stage designs.

What I Did This Summer: Open a professional theater

"What I Did This Summer" follows a number of University of South Carolina students this summer as they work, travel, and explore the world. Many of them are blogging about their adventures. This is the second story in the series.

Check out Brian Clowdus' blog at


The New York Times calls Serenbe, Georgia, the “Sonoma for the New South.” Brian Clowdus calls it the home of his new theatre.

“Serenbe is part of the Chattahoochee Hills community, and it’s just a 40-minute drive from midtown Atlanta,” said Clowdus, an MFA in acting student.

“It’s a wonderful town. There’s an organic farm, lots of shops and galleries, and acres and acres of green space that will remain undeveloped.

Brian Clowdus
Brian Clowdus

“Serenbe Playhouse is located outside for now, with its main stage in an intimate space in a courtyard, where people can enjoy an outdoor experience in the heart of the town,” he said. “Another stage will be located on the outskirts of nearby woods.

“With my graduate student schedule, I have my summers free and I didn’t want to wait to fulfill my dream of starting a theatre,” said Clowdus, who has an impressive list of professional acting gigs on his resume, including commercials, films, and the Broadway National Tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

“Our first production, The Jungle Book, opens June 11.”

Just one month before their opening night, Clowdus and other theatre students had finished up their spring semester coursework and were in the University’s scene shop, surrounded by tons of new lumber. They were using saws and nail guns to build a massive outdoor stage.

“The theatre department allowed us to use the scene shop to create the stage and set. Otherwise we would have had no other place to build our sets. We trucked the stage pieces to Serenbe ourselves.”

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