by Lynn Geyer
Two years ago, the Pierce College Theatre Department was evicted from its physical theatre of 20 years. Dauntlessly, the department staff agreed that they would follow the adage “The show must go on!” And on it went, traveling full circle to when their actors first appeared on the Fort Steilacoom campus in 1977 with the Oppelt Student Center as its temporary space.
The long anticipated theatre finally arrived 10 years later in 1987, opening with “A Chorus Line,” directed by Fred Metzger. May, 2007, that theatre’s final production was “Talk Radio,” directed by fellow theatre staff member, Patrick Daugherty.
During the following two years, “stages” for the traveling theatre department were found in very unlikely places, including the dining space next to the Student Center, King’s Book Store in downtown Tacoma and the mezzanine of the Physical Fitness Center.
Now, after 25 years, Studio 320, a new Black Box theatre graces the new (still in the midst of remodeling construction) Cascade Building.
The opening ceremonies, presided over by college Chancellor Michele Johnson, featured a welcoming moment by Fort Steilacoom Campus President Denise Yochum, who said how she loved the set of the opening production, “Admissions,” and only wished they could move the play’s furnishing into her office at the college after the show closed.
Metzger lauded the advantages of the new theatre remarking about its versatility. He said that he just wanted to sit in the theatre and envision all the possibilities to come. Metzger said, “This is not just a Black Box Theatre, it’s a Magic Box!”
The theatre is about 60 feet square with a catwalk outlining the acting space for access to the lighting instruments. The stage can be centered, as it is for “Admissions,” with seating on both sides of the acting space. The next production could be set in the round or even at one end of the room as with a conventional theatre with a proscenium.
Metzger also said that he hoped that the addition of the new theatre would encourage community members to join in the theatre scene at the college. “Come and audition for our shows or come and work backstage,” he said.
Daugherty had the distinction of directing the opening production of “Admissions” in the permanent home of the department’s new theatre, Studio 320. The production has a short run at 7 p.m. nightly through May 16. For reservations or more information, contact the box office at (253) 964-6710.