For Sanford Robbins, chairman and professor of the theater department and director of the PTTP, the Center for the Arts signifies the "resurrection of a commitment" UD made when he and the program he founded moved in 1988 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
"It was always part of the commitment of the university to erect a more suitable space," he
says."By ingenuity and grit, we've managed to perform without three performing spaces."
Much of the theater department - its scenery and costume construction, for instance, and its classes - lives elsewhere.But performances now have a premier venue in the reserved-seating Thompson Proscenium Theatre, supplemented by Hartshorn Theatre, the black-box, general-seating space at Academy Street and East Park Place that had been the program's dominant venue.
"If one takes all of our performance spaces into account," Robbins
says, "it's comparable to the very best and superior to most."He
doesn't expect the new facility to profoundly affect the recruitment of acting students - one class every four years is admitted to the graduate conservatory - but he
says technical production students likely will show more interest when the recruitment cycle begins next year.
A major reason: Thompson Theatre's
counterweight system, which enables the raising and lowering of set pieces and requires a high ceiling.
"You can't modify a building to accommodate that," says Robbins
, who calls Hartshorn "sparse and bearable."
"It's permitted us to choose types of plays that otherwise we could not produce," he
says, "plays that require flown scenery, such as ‘Peter Pan.' There are plays that have technical requirements that cannot be done in Hartshorn Theatre.This new space opens up a whole realm of dramatic literature that was heretofore unavailable to us."
"Peter Pan," which opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and is presented in repertory with "Cyrano De Bergerac," makes use of the counterweight system.Along with lighting and sound equipment that Robbins
considers state of the art, the Center for the Arts
fills a gap for technical production students that had been compensated for by internships outside UD.
One Wednesday morning earlier this month, in a practice room on the second floor, Airee Cha was preparing for her