By BECKY LITTLE
Beginning in May of this year and lasting through December 2009, Klein Theatre will be closed due to renovations. As a result, next semester’s theatre productions will be held in Studio 115, the school’s black-box theatre space.
“Our studio committee is planning full season down there,” said Gregg Stull, chair of the Theatre department. Stull is also a director and arts manager for the program.
“It’s really exciting because all the productions are student-run,” said Bethany Ferrell, a sophomore theater major, contrasting the Studio 115 productions to the major productions in Klein Theatre, which are not student- run.
Though Ferrell remarked that some of the students may be nervous about the new type of venue, she felt as though there was a lot of excitement.
However, because of space limitations, the productions in Studio 115 will play to a much smaller venue than usual.
“The studio seats 40 people and right now Klein Theatre seats 295,” said Stull. “So, far fewer people will get to see the plays downstairs.”
Because the theater department is not sure how many productions of each play will be produced next semester, it is unsure of how much of an impact the smaller venue will have on revenues.
“It’s going to be an exciting year, a different year, and our students are on board,” said Stull. “Our activity won’t change at all during the renovation, it’s just we’ll be busy in other spaces.”
The renovations are entirely funded by two bonds from the state that are earmarked so that they can only be used for the theatre department.
According to Stull, the bonds were issued eight or nine years ago.
However, the department did not begin to plan the renovations until three years ago.
According to Paul Messplay, executive director of budget and financial analysis, the bonds are worth $5,000,000 and $1,750,000, respectively.
The renovations will include “a replacement of the sound system and the lighting system and some cosmetic renovations to the theater itself,” Stull said.
Julie Hodge, associate professor of theatre and dance, says that the current light and sound systems are simply too out-of-date.
“They’re so archaic,” Hodge said. “The theatre was designed not realizing that theatre would change. We can’t begin to train [theatre majors] on what the state-of-the-art is.”
Though Hodge admits that the theater will not be able to obtain the most up-to-date equipment, she says that anything would be better than the current fifteen-year-old light-board.
“Everything is digital now,” Hodge said. “It’s like using a fifteen-year old computer.”
“Hanging lights [is] difficult,” said Ferrell, in agreement that the systems are out of date. “[The renovations] will make it much easier for lighting instruments to be hung.”
Hodge said that cosmetic renovations are likely to include curtains, but may also include the seats and the lobby.
“I haven’t seen the revised drawings,” said Hodge, who remarked that they the theatre department has had to lower expectations for how much they can renovate based on how much it will all cost.
“We haven’t had house lights that have worked in years,” Hodge said. “And it will be $4,000 or $5,000 just to fix them.”