Texas Tech University

Together Again

Mark Charney

December 1, 2022

Mark Charney

maedgenThe second phase of our theatre complex is now completed, and it's breathtaking. The newly remodeled Maedgen Theatre is unrecognizable: it's much more open, what with new seats and carpet, and the walls are built to transform the means by which sound is shared with the audience. In other words, the entire theatre is focused on bettering the audience experience. It's lighter, more spacious, and absolutely welcoming, as is the new lobby, the state-of-the-art costume shop, and all of the other shops, green rooms, and offices.

The second floor houses the Dean's suite, so, finally, 18th street represents a corridor for the arts at Texas Tech, beginning with the School of Art and finishing with the School of Music. It's great to have Dean Camacho, whom you will read about in this newsletter, right next door, along with his terrific team—not only for accessibility, but also to facilitate the collaboration that defines the interdisciplinary focus of our college.

Just a few years ago, the School of Theatre and Dance was splayed all over campus, and now, with the exception of our excellent Creative Movement Studio, we are together! This represents, of course, the achievements of a bevy of our administrators, from Chancellor Duncan and his wife Terri to Past Interim President Bess Haley, Past Dean Noel Zahler, and especially President Schovenec, who championed our building from the start. And, of course, we are grateful both to The CH and Helen Jones Foundations, who offered the financial support to make this dream a reality.

costume studioWe now boast one of the most impressive theatre and dance complexes in the nation. We hope this helps us build the program, recruit the best students, and present, for you, the best of theatre and dance in a number of flexible spaces, from our intimate Studio to our Black Box to the new Maedgen Theatre.

As the semester careens to a close, we have much for which to be thankful. We began the fall with the excellent production celebrating Texas Tech's 100-year anniversary in the Allen Theatre and we ended it with our sold-out Fall Dance Festival. We also introduced the New Canon Reading Series with a terrific production of The Book Club Play, delighted audiences with a little-known musical, Fly By Night, and returned to Shakespeare with the comedy As You Like It. Best of all, possibly, we safely embraced theatre and dance productions in person.

lobbyIn the spring, look for the official opening of Phase Two, built around the musical Sweet Charity, directed by our Head of Dance, Kyla Olson, as well as the irreverent The Secretaries, directed by graduate student Sarah Mayhew; Black Top Sky (the second play in our New Canon Reading Series), directed by Jesse Jou; DanceTech, featuring choreography by our faculty and a featured guest artist; and Frontier Festival, celebrating original works by our theatre and dance students and coordinated by Dr. Sarah Johnson.

As we look to the end of 2022, it's a good time to share our mission once again. While we applaud the opening of the Buddy Holly Center (and all of the famous musicals now available to local audiences), the continued success of Lubbock Community Theatre, and an exciting new venture, The Edge Theatre, in Lubbock (along with other theatres I may be forgetting), we exist for a different reason: to educate. To that end, we choose to perform plays and choreography that both challenge our students and our audiences. Some of the titles are unfamiliar, such as the upcoming The Secretaries and Black Top Sky, and that is on purpose. We envision our season as a means to train our students, and also, to share with audiences works they may not recognize. We know that this asks audiences to make a leap of faith, to attend shows that may be unfamiliar, with subject matters that truly embrace the contemporary challenges we face together as a nation.

Universities remain places of exploration, where we strive to make the unfamiliar familiar, and we hope that our productions inspire conversation. We are proud of how our seasons impact the education of our students, how they represent the careers many of our population will embrace upon graduation. Please know that your opinion matters; in other words, art practitioners never exist without you, so we hope that you will share your thoughts with us.

Finally, as we say goodbye to 2022 and welcome a new year, we are grateful to the community at Texas Tech for recognizing the need for our new theatre and dance complex, and, yes, to Texas itself, a state that truly recognizes the importance of arts education. But most of all, we are thankful for you, our audiences, who continue to support us as we celebrate and share the skills learned by our most excellent students.

Have a safe and restful holiday season. We can't wait to share our new spaces with you!