At the first College Council (CC) meeting of the new term, council members approved a project to bring new stage lights to Paresky Auditorium. The changes came in response to a concern raised by Cap and Bells to Co-Presidents Nick Fogel ’12 and Francesca Barrett ’12 during their recent campaign.
“I brought up [in a weekly Cap and Bells board meeting that Barrett attended] what I feel is a big oversight in the utilization of space in Paresky – the completion of the Paresky Auditorium,” said Sara Harris ’12, the publicity director of Cap and Bells. “I was so impressed to find that [Barrett] had immediately followed up with Campus Life and that [the project] made its way onto the CC agenda.”
“When the space was originally designed, it was intended as an alternative performance space for student performance groups on campus,” said Cap and Bells Co-Artistic Director Amanda Keating ’12. However, the organization, as well as other performance groups like Combo Za and various a capella groups have “used the space very minimally for performance, due to its limited technical capacities,” Keating said.
Adam Stoner ’11, Cap and Bells technical director, added that the current lighting fixtures are similar to those of a lecture hall. “If you’ve ever watched a performance in there, you’ll notice that it’s quite difficult to stay focused on the people on stage; faces are dim, bodies blend together,” he said.
Most groups that do use the space are forced to borrow lights from Cap and Bells and manually install them prior to their performances.
A new performance space in Paresky would ease the burden on other spaces such as the ’62 Center and Goodrich, where “theatre, dance and music department events as well as student groups all fight for space to rehearse and perform,” according to Harris.
The auditorium is also conveniently located in the heart of campus, which Barrett said she hopes will “draw the most people to these performances.”
The new fixtures being installed will have “colored lights so that the auditorium is more appealing to performance groups for use,” Barrett said. CC and the Office of Campus Life are funding these changes together, with the total costs adding up to about $4000. The installation will likely occur during spring break so the space can be ready for use in April, according to Fogel.
Ultimately, Cap and Bells is still unsure as to whether the lighting changes will largely increase their use of the space. “The main problems with the space are largely architectural and stem from its original design,” Keating said. She added that the stage is not deep enough for most sets. Harris said the backstage area is largely unfinished, citing “exposed wiring, no lightbulbs above the dressing room mirrors [and] no chairs” as some of the spaces remaining problems.
Harris said she hopes for even more change in the future. “With more student interest in using the space, it is likely to receive more funding to be closer to becoming a fully functional theater, albeit on a smaller scale,” she said.
Even if the changes to Paresky Auditorium do not fully serve for the needs of Cap and Bells, they will likely increase its popularity with other student performance groups.
“I think a lighting system is a great first step toward renewing the space – Combo Za and DHS and a cappella [groups] will be very, very happy,” Stoner said. “If we ever have a small show coming down the pike, and we need a space, we’d certainly consider using Paresky more often if such a system were installed.”