As students finish settling into their new dorms and apartments, one place on campus is still working on unpacking those last few boxes.
This fall, the University of Dallas welcomes a brand new drama building to campus.
After a semester of running classes, rehearsals and administrative work out of Carpenter Hall, the Drama Department is overjoyed to once again have its own space.
“We’re just amazed how quickly the university made this happen,” associate professor Stefan Novinski said. “From the leadership of [Associate Vice President for Administration] Pat Daley and his office to Scotty in construction, it’s crazy how quickly this building was demolished and put back up. The craftsmanship, the attention to detail is incredible.”
While maintaining an almost identical floor plan, the new building brings some exciting new changes which will enhance the space for its broad spectrum of needs.
Kyle Lemieux, drama department chair, explained that the design goal was to increase the space and to allow the room to function as a classroom, rehearsal space and performance space.
The new building, nestled in its original location between Anselm and Augustine Halls, features increased storage facilities, a permanent light grid, a projector and an extra ADA bathroom that will function as a dressing room as well.
“I love how airy and bright the whole building feels,” Lemieux said. “It looks like the old rehearsal space just took a huge breath in and expanded. We have a higher ceiling and a slightly larger footprint in the rehearsal space.”
In addition to the structural changes, technical upgrades of the light and sound systems have transformed the rehearsal space into a production-ready room capable of hosting a performance.
“The drama building is now more conducive to producing Senior Studios, given that it has a permanent lighting grid and wiring for sound and lights,” Novinski said. “It can operate like a flexible theater.”
While the old building had a very homey, welcoming feel, that design has given way to a sleek, professional look.
“It feels like a room you want to go in,” Lemieux said. “Right now the room is just a room, but I think one of the neat things we do in theater is we give rooms souls. Right now it doesn’t have any terroir — you know, that French term for soil that creates wine. That’s not something you can fabricate in a lab, it just occurs in the soil for generations. For us, we’ve got to make some productions in there. We’ve got to get some blood on the walls.”
The first event to christen the new building took place Tuesday evening at the department’s Drama Orientation Meeting.
Eager drama students gathered to hear about the opportunities of the semester and to admire the new building. Senior drama major Zeina Masri described the almost identical building as trippy, because of its minor yet distinct changes.
“[The new building is] spacious and just waiting for memories,” senior drama major Mary Armato said.
Overall, the reactions to the new building have been positive as students and faculty prepare to fill its walls with stories, friendships and, of course, top-notch performances.
During the orientation meeting, Lemieux pointed out that the previous building had carried with it a very rich history.
“What I do love is that the ground beneath us, the ground on which we literally stand, is thirty years of a chapel, and thirty years of a rehearsal and performance space,” Lemiuex said. “That history is literally underneath us.”
Lemieux pointed to the section of the room where the previous building had hosted the weddings and baptisms of alumni, and recalled the countless Directing Lab scenes that had taken place upon the old hardwood floors.
“So now we have this new start, but we also have this ground that we have stood on for 60 years that we as a department have inherited,” Lemieux said. “And that’s exciting.”