Museum, Theatre and Studio Arts Facilities

The Case for a New Theatre

Theatre is in many ways a model of the liberal arts experience. Performance builds personal responsibility and empowerment. It encourages a sense of community, both within the creative ensemble and between performer and audience. It immerses students in unfamiliar cultures and experiences and teaches them to respect differences. And it helps students find and develop their own voices and identities.

It is also by nature a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary activity, building strong student-teacher relationships and connections to many other fields: English, communications, art, music, dance, languages, Asian and Africana studies.

Additionally, theatre productions consistently draw full audiences from the campus community and the region, meaning that theatre facilities are a point of contact and engagement for those at Hamilton and their neighbors.

All these interactions require a third partner: space. Theatre is a uniquely spatial art form and requires suitable teaching and performance venues. Hamilton lacks such spaces, and has for some time:

  • Minor Theater’s shortcomings were documented as far back as 1983, when Jules Fisher, the country’s leading theatre design consultant, remarked, “By almost any standard that might be applied, the Minor Theater would be deemed inferior.”
  • The lack of adequate wing space and fly space in Minor severely limits the plays that can be produced and the manner in which they are staged.
  • Cramped and ill-equipped scenery and costume shops make the teaching of technical theatre difficult and limit the kinds of sets and costumes that can be constructed.
  • The lack of a smaller teaching theatre makes the teaching of directing and other performance-based classes difficult.
  • The single classroom does triple duty as a teaching, rehearsal and performance space, and is frequently in constant use from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • The lack of a design studio means students must travel to Colgate to study scene design.

A new theatre facility will address these problems, enabling the department to expand its productions and provide students with vastly improved performance and teaching venues.

Just as important, a new facility will provide a locus for creative activity, student life and the presentation of timely issues, enriching the entire campus culture.