Although the newly named ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance has been described as a world-class home for performing arts that will provide the College community with new and expansive artistic opportunities, some student groups have been neglected in the pending construction projects. Cap & Bells, the oldest student-run theatre organization at Williams, hoped to expand their current resources in the new theatre, but to no avail. Further, some dance groups are still awaiting word of potential space. As an added disappointment, the current design of the new Baxter does not include space specifically designated for these groups.
“We try to put on theatre that will appeal to the general Williams populace, but we need space to do that,” Claire Kendrick ’03, president of Cap & Bells said. Originally built for the student-run organization, the Adams Memorial Theatre (AMT) can no longer accommodate the growing needs of both the Theatre Department and extracurricular groups.
With this in mind, the new Theatre and Dance Complex was proposed; the original idea was a new complex on Spring Street. The AMT would have been left to Cap & Bells.
Eventually, however, the Spring Street design was abandoned in favor of an expansion of the current AMT. Even though the new Theatre and Dance complex will include a new 550-seat theatre, as well as a new studio theatre, renovated AMT, and various storage areas, there will be no space specifically designated for Cap & Bells.
“The building is designed to provide state of the art support for existing academic programs,” said Cosmo Catalano, Lecturer in Theatre and production manager. “Extracurricular activities such as Cap & Bells will continue to make use of the spaces as they do now, when College staffing and academic scheduling allow.”
As it stands now, Cap & Bells, in its 104th season, is rapidly gaining popularity.
“We’re busting at the seams,” Kendrick said.
Almost all of last year’s Cap & Bells’ productions, such as the ever-popular Frosh Revue, were sold out. Because current space in the AMT has been limited, Cap & Bells has attempted to use other venues, such as Currier Ballroom and Chapin Hall for their events. Using such spaces limits the types and quality of shows Cap & Bells has been able to produce, and they predict exacerbated problems without additional room in the Theatre and Dance complex.
“The new building will solve little to nothing,” Kendrick said. “And we don’t even have guaranteed storage space.” Currently, Cap & Bells has a small amount of space for storage, but, Kendrick says, more is definitely needed. If not in the new theatre, Cap & Bells was hoping to have some storage space, and its own performance space in the redesigned Baxter Hall.
While there will be no area specifically for Cap & Bells in the new Baxter, according to Dean Roseman, there will be a multipurpose room with a stage in the basement. “In thinking about the multi-use space,” Roseman said. “I certainly had Cap & Bells in mind as a potential user, along with dozens of other student groups.”
Cap & Bells is not the only group fighting for room. Student-run dance groups, such as Nuthin’ But Cuties (NBC) hope to secure space in the Theatre and Dance complex as well.
“Overall, we have always had trouble with dance space,” Akilah Rogers ‘04, head of NBC, said. “We are not allowed to use Dance Company space and the theatres tend to be booked for our show dates. So we hope that the new theatre will allot space for groups that are not under Dance Company.” Currently, administrators are considering this issue.
By not including areas specifically designated for student-run performance groups, students feel that their creativity is being curtailed.
“I almost feel that by denying us space, it is an attempt to keep us from expanding and trying new things,” Kendrick said. “Like a reminder that we’re ‘just’ student theatre.”