Come February 26 of 2015 Pitt State Theatre will open their first production in the new Dotty and Bill Miller Theater in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. For the first time since I arrived in 1999, and for at least a decade prior, we don’t have to worry about hauling scenery from campus to Memorial Auditorium or building a set in the Grubbs Studio Theatre, a place so small and with such limited lighting positions that performing on the stage is much like standing in front of a bank of cars with their headlights on bright.
Instead, we will be in a space designed to work with artists and not against them; where dreaming and imagination can be put in play at full speed; where creativity is the starting point of a theatrical process instead of a skill set needed to get around insurmountable obstacles; where audiences and performers can, in comfort, share the same space and mutual energy generated by live theatre. Standing in the house or on stage as the final touches are put on the building, it is hard not to be brought to tears of joy over this intimate yet magnificent performance space.
I am certainly not alone in my anticipation. Our students are quivering with the excitement and anticipation of getting to work in the new space. For many of them who have been told there is no future in the arts the Bicknell Family Center is a validation of their passion and creative drive. It is a testament to the belief that the arts hold a sacred and important place in any community. Indeed, as recent statistics have shown, citizens who are active in the arts are 14% more likely to be engaged in their communities than others. I cannot wait to have the theatre students engaged in all the tasks and processes that go into the development of a production or the running of an arts center. They will leave this campus fully prepared for a life in the arts and for the creative professions they have selected.
As for me, I can’t wait to hear the applause, sighs, laughter, tears, ooohs and aahhhs that live theatre brings. What a beautiful facility for artists, students, and community! We will dream bigger , learn more, and enrich each other more fully and beautifully than we could ever have guessed.
Chair, Department of Communication
Director of Theatre