NICEVILLE — Amy Kern-Smith has one goal in mind for her new theater, and that goal includes more than offering a space for performers.
Kern-Smith hopes to bring the community together one matinee at a time.
"There's something about live theater that just connects people," Kern-Smith said. "We are so disconnected as a society with social media and everything else. But anytime you go sit and watch music or see a live play, it brings people together in the same space. It also creates discussion and builds bonds with people you wouldn't have before."
Kern-Smith has lived in the Niceville area for five years with her husband and children. Although she left performing arts and entered the corporate world, something was always pulling her back into the arts.
When Kern-Smith first moved to the area, she visited Cafe Bienville.
The owners of the coffee shop asked Kern-Smith what brought her to the area. At the time, work had brought her to the area, but Kern-Smith hoped for something more.
"I said, 'One day I'm going to own my own a little theater space,'" she said. "That's what my degree is in. That's what I did my whole life up until I had to support the family."
The owners of Cafe Bienville provided Kern-Smith with her dream theater space, which is located in the same building as the coffee shop on John Sims Parkway.
"When I came in, I fell in love with the black box theater space because it's where I come from," Kern-Smith said.
In August, Kern-Smith plans to open the first black box performance space in Niceville.
Black box theater is a simple performance space varying in size, but usually a square space. Kern-Smith said the space will have a minimalist setup with very few props.
She plans to have a low-light setting with small tables surrounding the performance area. But Kern-Smith doesn't want anything concrete to give her the ability to change the space based on the night's show.
The space is still undergoing construction, but Kern-Smith plans to offer seating for 60. The Story House will also have tapas from Cafe Bienville. Kern-Smith has already made a list of shows for the season, which will be announced soon, she said.
Kern-Smith said the performances will be minimal cast and props, some of them true stories about the performer's life. Improv comedy, StorySLAM, one-act plays, and one-man or -woman shows are also on the list of offered performances.
"We're going to bring to life stories," Kern-Smith said.
Auditions for the set performances will take place in June. Tickets will be available on the Story House website, once launched.
Along with the performances, Kern-Smith plans to host poetry nights, readers theater, and music shows.
The space will be open on the weekends in the evening time. Kern-Smith also plans to open up the space to the community for event rental.