Theater Classroom Renovated, Student Performances Revamped

Each day, students channel their energy in the theater classroom to prepare and rehearse for DramaLabs, classes and other theatrical pursuits.

The theater classroom, which has withstood ten years of continuous wear and tear, was reopened on September 17 after a summer-long renovation. This renovation included a new stage, curtains and risers for the audience members.

A major part of the renovation involved transforming the stage into a larger thrust configuration, which seats audience members surrounding three sides of the stage with the fourth side leading into a backstage area. As a result of the new setup, actors will sometimes have their backs to the audience.

“The thrust [configuration] in general is sometimes a more challenging type of acting, but it will push our directors and our actors to make the scenes more realistic,” said Michaela Barczak ’15, a DramaLab producer. “It’s a little more experimental, but it will open the department up so much.”

The renovation also included the addition of curtains. A large black curtain now covers the back wall, providing a backstage area for actors. Two smaller side curtains were added to provide wings from which the actors could emerge. Together, the new curtains increase and vary the possible entrances and exits during a performance.

“There is more opportunity for directors to be creative with their staging,” said Emma Kukielski ’15, a DramaLab producer. “Instead of coming in from the two sides or the two doors from the back, [performers] can come from behind the stage or behind the wings.”

The audience seating was also rearranged during the renovation. The former setup consisted of several rows of chairs behind two large wrestling mats. Now, audience members sit on risers that surround the stage on three sides. Although the addition of risers slightly decreases the number of available seats, it allows for better visibility, especially for audience members in the back rows.

“I’m really excited about how three-dimensional the space is because you’re not just working one way. You’ve got the audience all around you, so you can go one way and another way,” said David Benedict ’15, a DramaLab producer.

With the new space, the producers are looking to expand the usage of the theater classroom and create more complex theatrical works.

“We’re excited to get more groups involved and really expand the Theatre Department at Andover,” said Barczak. “We want to open up different opportunities. Already, we had Under the Bed perform at the DramaLabs, and we’re trying to incorporate slam poetry.”

The renovation of the theater classroom was funded by the Abbot Academy Association.