Funds for theater studies supervisor lets show go on

Senior theater studies majors, who as of Friday morning were unsure if they would have a venue to stage their senior projects, will no longer have to compete with extracurricular productions for alternative performance spaces.

The Whitney Theater will be open this semester for the presentation of theater studies senior projects after the Office of Environmental Health and Safety agreed Friday afternoon to provide funding for a supervisor to advise student productions in the space. According to an e-mail from Toni Dorfman, the director of undergraduate studies for the Theater Studies Program, Elan Gandsman, the director of OEHS, confirmed Friday afternoon that his office would pay for a supervisor to be hired on a freelance basis.

Jim Brewczynski, the supervisor of the Office of Undergraduate Productions, said in an e-mail to Gandsman that the cost of hiring a supervisor for each of the 12 shows expected to go up in the Whitney Theater this semester will be approximately $4,500.

A supervisor will watch students build sets, hang lighting and work on other potentially risky technical aspects of the shows. Dorfman said she would not permit students to put up productions in the space without the supervisor, citing safety concerns.

“We would be inclined to cancel all production if you can’t do it safely,” she wrote in the e-mail.

If theater studies students did not have a venue in which to stage performances, Dorfman said the seniors could have submitted essays without a performance component to fulfill their senior requirement.

“If we can’t get the safe environment for them to do a production, then we’re perfectly happy for them to do an essay,” she said. “But it’s important for us as part of a student’s education to provide opportunities for practice.”

Dorfman said the request for a technical adviser was made after students last year brought an electric saw into the Whitney Theater space without an undergraduate production office supervisor. At a meeting, the theater studies faculty decided a higher level of supervision was needed than the office could provide.

Details surrounding the hiring of a supervisor for each production have yet to be determined.

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