Campus Life  

University Theatre launches as performing arts venue

Neil Cadger, head of Creative Studies, and student Kevin Jesuino in University Theatre, UBC’s new performing arts space.

Neil Cadger, head of Creative Studies, and student Kevin Jesuino in University Theatre, UBC’s new performing arts space.

UBC’s Okanagan campus locale to host live theatre and entertainment events

It may be that all the world’s a stage, but students at UBC’s Okanagan campus finally have a playhouse to call their own.

Students and staff alike are excited that there is now a permanent public performance space on campus. University Theatre, which continues to double as a lecture hall, has been upgraded, renovated and turned over to students in the performance program in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

The makeover has been a long time coming and nobody anticipates it more than Neil Cadger, head of the Department of Creative Studies and associate professor of performance (theatre).

“Having University Theatre as a dedicated performance venue on campus is a great resource for our students,” says Cadger. “Our ability to workshop and deliver live theatre productions and entertainment provides students with a first-hand learning experience. They will immerse themselves in every aspect of live staging, from performance, to writing, designing promotional material to managing the theatre itself.”

Some of the renovations are still a work in progress. A new sound board, sound system, theatre lighting, theatre curtains and backdrop curtains go a long way towards creating a theatre atmosphere. Still to come are an interior repaint of the facility – using black and dark hues to erase the white ceiling and mute the existing earth tones.

“Now it has the look and feel of a theatre,” says Cadger.

The Department of Creative Studies has the venue booked for study, rehearsal and performances every Thursday and Friday evenings and as well as Saturday and Sunday. There have been a few events to date, like a stand-up comedy evening and University Theatre will be officially inaugurated this Saturday, Nov. 3, with an opening performance of the Vancouver Fringe Show production of Til Death Do Us Part, a critically acclaimed comedy by the Vancouver troupe Monster Theatre. A wine and cheese reception will follow the performance.

With 1,700 students living on campus, there is a ready audience for activities such as live theatre, performances, DJ nights and comedy revues, says Cadger.

More important, there are opportunities for students to be involved in every step of the theatre’s operation. University Theatre has five students currently working at marketing, technical support, programming, finance and box office, and video archiving and promotion.

“This offers us a chance to experience what the roles are – beyond being on stage – of running a theatre,” says Kevin Jesuino, a fourth-year student in interdisciplinary performance who expects to be among the first graduating class of his program.

Working with a dedicated theatre venue adds a certain authenticity to students’ work, says Jesuino.

“We didn’t have the access to a traditional theatre space, and now we have this traditional proscenium setting,” says Jesuino. “The special thing about this is that we are the first graduating class and we’re kicking off this theatre, which will be our home base over the long term.”

Cadger expects University Theatre will be a busy and popular attraction among the growing theatre and music crowd in the Okanagan.

“UBC has invested considerable effort and dollars into University Theatre and we will use it to full advantage,” says Cadger. “Our audiences will be thrilled and entertained, while our students will get a chance to show what they can do.”

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