Over the past few years, Castleton State College has undergone radical changes. There’s the new communication studio, football stadium, radio station, campus center and gym, all of which have added to the educational breadth, professionalism and “vision toward forward moving service” of the school, said Harry McEnerny, chairman of the theater department. During Christmas break, the Fine Arts Center began transforming as well when work started to create the new “Black Box Theater” in the old television studio.
The advantage of this little theater compared to the large Casella Theater is its simplicity and maneuverability, theater department officials said.
“One of the unique things about a Black Box classroom space is it gives us an infinite variety of ways to use the space both as a class room and as a performance space,” said Steven Gross, the school’s scene designer and technical director.
With seating capacity of about 60 and a small stage, the possibilities of performance styles are endless.
“You could do a tennis court. You could have chairs on two sides of a room and have the playing space be in the middle. You could have it in a corner, have them on an angle. You could have it against one side. You could do it in a round,” McEnerny said. “And all of that versatility is stuff that we cannot do in the proscenium (Casella).”
Not only would another theater facilitate more productions and student work, independent projects, youth orchestra, music department recitals, and senior projects, but it also allows for pressure to be taken off Casella’s production calendar, they said.
“We’re pretty strapped right now in one theater,” McEnerny said. “These guys are busy.”
Students are also excited about the new theater, for a variety of reasons.
“One thing we really don’t have is an experimental space,” said Castleton Junior, Louis Requelme, set designer for the upcoming production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ “The theater department does not have a real classroom,” he adds. “We need the space and it’ll add a level of intimacy to a production.”
As of now the “Black Box Theater” is under construction, but will be ready for senior projects in March. It will be fully completed to include an entire framework for lights, audio and acoustics by this summer.
“We’re pretty much done,” Requelme said. “Just rip all the old sheetrock out, put new walls up, and of course, paint it all black.