1 Feb 2012

The Wolfe Center is a Place to Experience and Learn About the Arts

Author: Eric Lagatta | Filed under: Spring 2012, Student Contributor, Wolfe Center

By Eric Lagatta

Visitors to the Wolfe Center for the arts, a new building at The University, will notice its unique and modern architecture, both on the outside and inside.

It was designed by international architecture firm, Snohetta and was named for Mary and Frederic Wolfe of Perrsyburg, Ohio, who gave the lead private gift, said the Chair of the Theatre and Film Department Ron Shields.

The center cost roughly $40 million, said Ryan Miller, who served as the project manager for the building.

The Wolfe Center, however, is more than just a work of art; it is also for the performance of and education in the arts.  The center features two theaters that will be hosting many performances throughout the semester, as well as many classrooms.

First, there is the Eva Marie Saint Theatre, named for an actress and an alumna of the University. The theater, which seats 80-120, is what Shields called a black box theater.

“We call it a black box because it has the ability to change the relationship between the performer and the audience,” he said. “The key element in this space is flexibility as an experimental space.”

The theater will have its official opening in mid-February with the opening of the musical “Arabian Nights.”

The second theater in the Wolfe Center is the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre, named for donors from Findlay, Ohio.

A more traditional theater with a horseshoe-shaped balcony, the chairs in the audience feature the names of various donors to The Wolfe Center, Shields said.

This theater will be hosting many performances, including the musical “Chicago” in April.

These performances will be a collaborative effort between students and the faculty and staff and will be open to students, faculty and staff and even the Bowling Green community, Shields said. Some will be free but for those requiring a ticket, one need only find the box office in the main lobby of the center.

“This is by far the most expensive room in the building,” Miller said, referring to the Donnell Theatre.

Since the money was not spent to increase the size- the theater seats 400- it was instead spent on upscale technology, he said.

BGSU spokesperson Jen Sobolewski boasts of the advanced technology.

“It obviously offers students the best of the best,” Sobolewski said.

“There will be no equipment that they work with that is better than here,” she said, which will give the students a “leg up” in their careers.

Shields agreed with Sobolewski and also emphasized the valuable experience students will get.

“What we wanted was a space where students can get the experience to be on those big road shows,” he said, speaking of the Donnell Theatre.

Aside from the theaters where the performances take place, there are also the places where the performances are prepared.

From the scene shop, where sets are built, to the costume shop, where outfits are designed and makeup is applied, to the many classrooms, The Wolfe Center provides all the places, as Shields said, “where the magic happens.”

“[The center is] a premier learning space for students who want to come learn about the arts,” he said.

Angenette Spalink is an instructor in the theatre and film department who teaches performance studies in The Wolfe Center.

“It’s a more social, communal space,” Spalink said, comparing the center to South Hall, where she used to teach. “It’s very spacious.”

Spalink also noted the privacy of the classrooms.

In South Hall, rooms are closer together and students could always hear the activity next door, she said.

“It will be nicer now because the classrooms are more deeper and far apart, so you know what’s going on in another classroom will not disturb another,” she said.

The Center also integrates many artistic fields, including theater, film, music and others.

“It’s a very unique space because it brings together many disciplines,” Sobolewski said. “Collaboration is the overriding theme of this entire building.”

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