This past summer, the Theatre Department finished construction on the new and improved Theatre Lab in Ryder Hall – and its first semester in use has been one to remember. This Fall 2016 semester, the new space has been packed with multiple classes as well as events ranging from the Dean’s welcome event in September to a staged reading of Finish Line to a Shakespeare master class weekend intensive. Student groups such as the NU Shakespeare Society and Silver Masque also make use of the space, the latter of which produces a student cabaret/variety show called Fortnight every other week.
The space, formerly two separate acting studios affectionately known as the “Itty Bitty,” seats up to 90 people. The Department has continued to present its major productions in the Studio Theatre, reserving the new lab for experimentation, as the name suggests. However, that does not mean that smaller scale full productions aren’t going to find a home here. The space is flexible both in layout and use, allowing students to engage in experiential learning right here on campus.
Students can book the space seven days a week to practice and rehearse whatever they want, but reserving the space has become increasingly competitive now that it is so desirable.
“It’s the preferred space to work in for students because it’s always ideal to rehearse where you will be performing,” Theatre student Cassie Moreno explained. “The space itself is not entirely new to us. The difference this year is that it’s usable, and attractive for both students and professors to use.”
Students and faculty alike agree the versatility of the space is one of its greatest advantages. There are many options for audience seating and lighting that were not available before, which allows the space to be transformed for workshops, shows, events, and more. All departments across CAMD are encouraged to use it for various projects and events.
Darren Evans, Theatre Operations Specialist, shared that the Music Department recently took advantage of the new lab, “for a welcome day performance with a large ensemble.”
For Theatre students specifically, however, “the biggest noticeable change this semester has been that full length productions are going up in the Theatre Lab,” Cassie said.
CAMD Professor Antonio Ocampo-Guzman will be directing the first fully staged production in the Lab in February and keeps a shadow box on his desk that serves as a scaled model of the possible seating arrangements. He also has been impressed with the upgrades to equipment and lighting.
“We have better toys to play with,” Professor Ocampo-Guzman said, “along with the joy of having more space to play in!”
This versatility allows for more flexibility with the content of the plays themselves as well; the ability to configure the audience in an immersive layout allows for more possibilities with the audience-actor relationship. Professor Ocampo-Guzman also credits the upgrades for turning it into a space for hosting guests from the broader theatre community in Boston and beyond, and raising the visibility of the department.
Check out the Musical Theatre showcase in the new space!
Musical Theatre Cabaret: Heart and Music
December 9, 7:30 pm
Ryder Theatre Lab
Musical theatre students light up the night with a revue of fall semester performances.