PSU Theater eyes ‘professional’ spotlight

| Marcus Clem reporter |

A line of people out the door and stretching down the block for Pittsburg State’s student coterie is not unexpected during any given show, and now PSU Theater is set for a stage said to be key in taking that success to the next level.
The Center for the Arts will open its doors this August, and one of its chief features will be a 250-seat performance stage.
“I am so excited,” said Taylor Patterson, senior in communication. “I feel so lucky that during my last year that I get to work or perform in this new center.
“PSU Theater that I have known is ending, but a new era is starting for our underclassmen.”
Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center, located at 503 N. Pine, has held PSU Theater’s largest shows with a maximum capacity of 1,500.
However, says Cynthia Allan, chair and professor of communication, the new location will save her department time and resources and open new opportunities for her students.
“It was a win-win for everybody,” Allan said of PSU Theater’s relationship with Memorial. “This won’t affect them too much because they no longer have to try to cram events … It gives them a lot more booking flexibility than they had before.”
In taking up the space offered by the Center for the Arts, PSU Theater won’t have to pay an $800 fee previously owed for each series of performances at Memorial, though Allan says that cost was usually covered by awarding the proceeds from a matinée showing.
A workshop and extended backstage facilities will help shows set up for most performances, Allan says.
“We will not have to spend money dragging scenery down to Memorial,” she said.
Employment opportunities will also exist for students who want to get a taste of the professional world, says Joseph Firman, Center for the Arts director. Creating this experience on campus was a central goal in the center’s construction, he added.
The Grubbs Hall Studio Theatre will still play an important role as a classroom, rehearsal area and the main performance space for entirely student-run shows, such as A Very Potter Musical.
Eventually, Firman says, all performing arts activities at the university may be able to do everything in the new building.
“The beautiful thing is, we’re expanding capacity,” he said. “Today, there are some programs and shows that are perfect for Grubbs and the Studio Theater, and there are some that are designed for the Center for the Arts theater.
“The new building is a laboratory space. Those of us who are there will be dedicated to the students, to honing their skills.”

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