Theatre and Dance Department Needs Funding for New Facilities

Lindsey Potter, Features and Managing Editor

California Lutheran University’s Theatre and Dance Department is underfunded and in desperate need of more space and resources.

As a dance minor, this is my plea to anyone who will listen and has the funds to donate to this growing program.

Our theatre and dance program currently operates out of a refurbished gym, a dance studio that does not meet the needs of classes and a theater that was not built for the performing arts.

The space the department uses still has gym flooring from its previous life and a “dusty busted scoreboard in the makeup lab… a haunting reminder of our past,” senior theatre major and theatre department assistant Jordan Erickson said.

The Blackbox Theater, the department’s main performance stage, is a “temporary space” said Michael Arndt, chair of the Theatre and Dance Department, who has been at Cal Lutheran for 38 years.

The Blackbox has no backstage nor changing rooms for performers.

“When I was interviewing for the job, they said I would have a new theater in two to three years over 30 years ago,” Arndt said.

In the dance room located in the Gilbert Fitness Arena, the floors should be sprung to prevent injury, but they are not. Additionally, tap students have to wear sneakers during class because the floors are not allowed to be tapped on.

Bridget De Maria, a senior theatre major and theatre department assistant, said the Preus-Brandt Forum backstage area is virtually non-existent.

“There’s not a lot of wing space which would make it difficult to have really intense set pieces in both the Blackbox and the Forum, because there’s no place to put them or if there is a place to put them then there’s no place for actors or dancers,” De Maria said.

In choreography classes, students are responsible for creating a stage dance to put on display at the annual Moving Images show. The choreographers have one semester to find music, dancers and space, as well as choreograph the movements and teach them to their dancers.

When I took choreography last semester, I had to recast my entire group because there was no space for us to practice.

“[Student choreographers] can reserve Nygreen, move the chairs out of the way and dance there,” said dance professor Barbara Wegher-Thompson. “But there’s some [dances] that literally will hurt someone if they bounce around on that concrete carpet floor.”

Theatre students face the same problem when reserving space. Erickson is in a directing course this semester where students have to direct a two-minute play.

“Finding a space where you and your actors are available during the week, that there is a space that you can rehearse in that isn’t already occupied by a class is very difficult most of the time,” Erickson said.

What we need is funding: donors that are willing to give so we can have the resources we need and deserve so that students can continue to grow.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of desire upon any of the constituency to build a building, it’s just I think it really comes to, to money,” Arndt said.

I hope that a donor finds us one day, reads this article and realizes the needs of Cal Lutheran’s performing arts programs. I hope that future students get the experience and education they deserve and do not have to go through the struggles that I have had to.