The end of April marks the opening ceremony for the newly renovated Charles E. Maedgen, Jr. Theatre, and the first production the be staged in the space, Sweet Charity. The theatre and the spaces attached to it are a part of the final phase of a $46 million complete renovation of the Theatre and Dance Complex.
The new Maedgen is a part of phase two of the project. The planning for phase one began in the fall of 2016, with ground being broken for the building in the fall of 2017. By September 2019, phase one was complete and has been truly impactful to our students, faculty, and audiences.
Our beautiful atrium was a part of this first phase. The renovation provides many advancements for the school including the addition of a light and design lab for our design students to learn and further develop their craft; two rehearsal spaces that also function as classrooms and performance venues; additional classrooms; and ample office space for our hard-working and dedicated faculty.
Last, but certainly not least, this phase gave us the black box theatre, a highly versatile space that houses many of our productions. As you may know, a black box theatre has the capability to change its configuration depending on the demands of the show, from theatre in the round to traditional proscenium. Along with the black box are several dressing rooms, a green room, and the new scene shop. We are fortunate to work in spaces that are state-of-the-art.
Phase two began with remodeling the Maedgen Theatre. The old theatre served the School of Theatre and Dance from 1964, but was outdated and in need of repair, especially in terms of safety and accessibility. The planning for the remodel began in fall of 2019, right after the completion of phase one, and we moved into the space this past November.
Before renovations, the Maedgen was approxiamately thirty-five thousand square feet. As it stands now, it is approxiamately ninety thousand square feet. This increase in square footage allows for many additions to the complex that give our program room to grow and serve our students and faculty. Phase one included a brand new scene shop, one large enough to serve our needs (the old shop was so small we had to build scenery on the stage. Phase two includes a metal shop, an electric shop, prop shop, and costume shop (moved from the one build across campus). All are equipped with state of the art technology for each of the respective fields. The remodeled theatre also boasts several new dressing rooms and a second green room. There is also a spacious basement directly below the stage that is currently functioning as the orchestra pit for Sweet Charity. The house is also equipped with a front and rear projector that allows for complex projection design, not unlike what you see in theatres on Broadway.
Among the improved features in the space, one of the most exciting is the new system for lighting. As it stands, there are almost 300 new lights, nearly equal to the number of seats in the theater! We also welcome the addition of a state of the art lighting console, the newly-released ETC Apex 10 lighting console. This particular console is part of ETC's flagship line, and is a highly customizable, professional board. This system is an exciting development for our lighting design students.
The last notable improvement to the space is the sound system. The house is equipped with 28 speakers that are controlled by the Moyer Galaxy Galileo system, a 360 degree immersive soundscape processing unit, the same system used by Cirque Du Soleil. This allows us to digitally manipulate the location of sound in the space, balancing it ways that truly exemplify the best in sound design. [For example, the theatre can replicate the sound of a helicopter, making it seem as though it is flying in from a distance and around the house, not unlike that used in the musical, Miss Saigon.]
The School of Theatre and Dance is thrilled to be able to offer our students the best in technology. Jared Roberts, our Assistant Professor of Scenic Design best explains the potential of these advancements:
Texas Tech is now leaning into leading edge technologies for theatre and live entertainment, allowing our students to be exposed to those technologies before going out into the professional arena. This new facility gives students marketable skills that will better their experience, helping them to secure jobs in the best facilities in the country.
In other words, the new Maedgen is more than a renovation: it's a brand new theatre. The School of Theatre and Dance is delighted with the results of this massive undertaking, and we are thrilled to welcome you into our new space!