800 Langdon St.
In the 21st Century, the Union Theater continues to flourish with ideas and programs, energy and vision. That vision becomes a reality hundreds of times each year, when the Theater is reserved for use or its doors open to a lively and inquiring audience. Over and over the mission of the theater is validated by applause as an artist is acknowledged, or by a significant silence as an important idea or a profound experience is considered. The Union Theater remains warm, lively and inviting, while the magic of great performances and the ferment of ideas continue to fill it.
The idea for the theater wing was conceived in the pre-1920's by University President Van Hise and members of the Memorial Union Building Committee who were working on the Memorial Union Project. They imagined a theater with ancillary workshops as an integral part of the Memorial Union, drawing the arts into the daily life of the campus.
It was the vision, dedication and persistence of one man, Porter Butts, with his organizational and fund-raising abilities, that made the theater a reality without the use of any taxpayers' dollars during the financially troubled time of the Great Depression.
The opening of the Wisconsin Union Theater in 1939 marked the realization of a dream and the solution to a long-felt need for a theater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Statewide radio broadcasted the October 8th inaugural ceremonies, and the next three days saw four splendid performances of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, starring the leading couple of the American Theatre, Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne.