2 Feb 2012

Theatre and Film Department find new home

Author: Rebekah Dyvig | Filed under: BGSU, Donnell Theatre, Spring 2012, Student Contributor, Wolfe Center

By Rebekah Dyvig

For decades, the theater and film department has been located in South Hall, but not anymore.

This semester, the theater and film majors at Bowling Green State University have a new home in the Wolfe Center.  Ron Shields, professor and chair of the Theatre and Film Department, has been teaching at BGSU since 1986 in South Hall.

“It feels great to be in the Wolfe Center,” Shield said. “It is wonderful to see the opportunities the students will have with the new space. It is very fulfilling.”

The Wolfe Center opened Dec. 9. 2011 containing two theatres, a dance studio, a choral room, classrooms for film and design, and two general education class rooms.

Ron Shields stands on the stage of the Donnell Theatre. Photo by Rebekah Dyvig.

BGSU chose SnØhetta , an architect firm based in Norway to design the Wolfe Center, but they hired Theatre Projects, who specializes in building theatres to help design the theaters. Theatre Projects design major theatres around the world, and worked with SnØhetta to design top quality theatres in the Wolfe Center. Shields said he had been working with equipment dating back to the 1950s, but is now working with the best technology around.

“I didn’t want nice theaters with bad technology,” Shields said. “This is the first time the university built a theater from scratch. All of our theaters were renovations from something else.”

No public events will be held in the theaters in University Hall anymore, since the Wolfe Center has two new ones designed specifically for the BGSU theater department. One of the theaters in the Wolfe Center is the Eva Marie Saint Theatre. The original Eva Marie Saint Theatre was located in University Hall, but the name was given to the new black box style theater in the Wolfe Center. “Arabian Nights” will open there in February.

The other theater inside the Wolfe Center is the Donnell Theatre, which has a capacity of 400 people. The Donnell has high enough ceilings over the stage so they can fly different backdrops out of sight and bring down new ones. The musical “Chicago” will open there in April.

The front of the Wolfe Center. Photo by Rebekah Dyvig.

The scene shop and costume shop are also located in the Wolfe Center, so the theater students do not have to spend two weeks moving equipment in and out at the time of a production. Now it can all be done in two days,  Shields said.

The scene shop floor is the same size as the floor of the Donnell, so the theater department knows the size of area they are working with when designing the scenes for their plays. Inside the back of the Donnell Theatre is two 20 foot doors which lead to the scene shop so everything can be created in the shop.

“In University Hall we had to build on the stage because there wasn’t enough room to get through from the scene shop to the stage,” Shields said.

The Wolfe Center stands between the Fine Arts Building and Moore Musical Arts Center, bringing the arts on campus together.

“I like how all of the arts are put together in the same area,” said Skye McCullough, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University majoring in film.

Although 90 percent of the Wolfe Center is for theatre and film majors, the goal of the instructors is to bring the arts together, said Katerina Rüedi Ray, the director of the School of Arts at BGSU.  Ray hopes the Wolfe Center will train the students to become better-rounded in other forms of art other than their specific major.

“We want students to cross disciplinary boundaries they might not have had previously,” Ray said.  Ray earned her doctorate in architecture from the University of London, and was director of the architect program at the University of Illinois before coming to BGSU.

“The Wolfe Center offers students the best of the best,” BGSU spokesperson Jen Sobolewski said. “There will be no equipment the film and theater majors won’t have used.”




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