by Peter Noonan, Performing Arts team Leader
As a teacher, it is a dream come true to be able to plan and develop a flexible work space that suits the specific needs of one’s discipline. The current Performing Arts team is ecstatic to do just that with the new campus’ performance facilities. The rooms that we work in can be an extension of our learning intentions or even the provocation for learning itself. In my own life, having a studio that is always welcoming to the muse of creation has been a necessity for successful learning and performance. In my classrooms, it is very important that the ability to make music and art through experimentation be possible without an overly difficult routine for access to the tools that our young artists require.
In our new campus’ performing arts wing, the theatre and music programs’ facilities will be in close proximity to aid in the cross-pollination of artistic ideas. We will have a recording studio control room built directly into the two secondary music rooms; currently, these facilities are in separate buildings. All of the performing arts students and classes will have access to four soundproof practice rooms as breakout work spaces for smaller ensembles during class or private practice. There will be a tatami-floored room to create the ambience for the Japanese music program, and a large open, well-soundproofed elementary music room. Even the humidity- controlled storage spaces for all of the instruments has been taken into account - a consideration that is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The drama space, the Black Box theatre, is particularly alluring as we will be able to convert it into two separate classrooms or a large performance space. It will also contain a full lighting system on a purpose-built grid in the ceiling with a dedicated control room.
All of these rooms sit directly below the main performing space, our new 420-seat auditorium. The most important criteria for our performing arts team when designing this space was that it should be a teachable space. Our current auditorium really only gets used by our students close to performance dates only. We want our young performers to feel familiar with how we share our art with the community and to see that sharing as an extension of their learning. To aid in pre-show preparation, they will have direct access to the backstage area from the performing arts classes on the floor below. The space itself will be extremely transformable with the capability to provide traditional seating or theatre-in-the-round seating, and it will be outfitted with full recording and lighting capabilities. And for anyone who has sat in our current auditorium for a long time, you will be relieved to know that our new space will have comfortable seating for everyone!
We are extremely excited with the designs and cannot wait to be making art come alive in the new spaces. From the shapes of the learning spaces to the soundproofing that provides the quietude in which creativity flourishes, the layout of these new performing arts rooms is purpose-designed to fit the specific needs of our budding artists. That purpose is to make art.