Campus sees progress for the performing arts

Campus sees progress for the performing arts

The University of Alabama is in the final stage of planning a $60 million state-of-the-art performing arts center for the Department of Theatre and Dance. 

The Department of Theatre and Dance currently performs and rehearses in Rowand-Johnson Hall. The building holds a lot of the department's history, but students have said they are ready for the change. 

Additionally, the building has not had any considerable renovations since the first few years since it was built.

“While Rowand-Johnson is very charming, getting more rehearsal space and an updated building is great for all these hard-working students,” said Auren Arevalo, a junior double-majoring in theatre and electrical engineering. “I just wish it happened sooner, so I could experience it.”

Students have also said that the ever-burgeoning department has outgrown the small building. 

“Our program has been growing and improving incredibly fast over the past decade, and this new building is exactly what we need to facilitate this growth, said Blair Ely, a senior double-majoring in dance and psychology. “The University of Alabama has consistently produced successful students and high quality productions and I think it’s time we had the facilities to match.”

The historic Peter Bryce building, otherwise known as Bryce, will be renovated to be administrative space for the University. Bryce is known for its history as a hospital for the mentally ill, and now it will be transformed into part of campus. The Performing Arts Academic Center will be connected to the Restored Peter Bryce Main Building.

The new facility will include three performance theaters: a black box theater with seating available for around 175-275 people, a proscenium-style theater with seating available for around 350 people and a theater specifically designed for dance shows that seats around 450 people.

“I’ve heard a good amount of stuff about the new department building because I worked for theatre management last semester,” said Megan Hill, a junior musical theatre major. “We’ll have a hard wood tap studio that’s just for tap, multiple dance theaters, play production theaters with trap doors and many other nice features.”

Olivia Zimmerman, a senior dance major, thinks it will be nice to have one building for anything and everything having to do with theatre and dance.

“Currently, we are dashing between Clark, Rowand-Johnson and Fresh Foods Studios, so it will be nice to have one, central location for all our rehearsals and classes,” Zimmerman said.

However, there are aspects of Rowand-Johnson that theatre students hope the new facility will also have.

“Rowand-Johnson has a 'piano lab' that is a very tiny room full of pianos,” Hill said. “I really hope the new building also has that, but a bigger space because it’s a nice, little supportive room where you can see everyone rehearsing.”

Hill also will miss the Allen Bales Theatre in Rowand-Johnson.

“I love an intimate performing space and you feel really alive in the Allen Bales Theatre,” Hill said. “All of the artists at UA before you have worked on that stage so there’s this big sense of community.”

The Department of Theatre and Dance partners with local public schools like Alberta School of Performing Arts. The new facility will allow the department to host high school dance and theatre festivities and various community events.

“We already draw incredibly talented students, but the beautiful new facility will be yet another incentive for prospective students when deciding on which university to attend,” Zimmerman said. “Our faculty, staff and students alike all have worked unbelievably hard to get where they are today and this new facility will aid them in continuing to reach new heights that are very well deserved.”

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