Pierce College Puyallup has had a theater and other drama department facilities but still doesn’t offer any drama classes.
Although college officials support the arts and the Fort Steilacoom campus has a drama department, the Puyallup campus doesn’t have drama classes. If administrators were to add drama classes, then they may need to cut other classes or programs because current funding doesn’t allow for additional classes.
The problem with the lack of drama classes but having a building to house them is that when the plans for the Arts and Allied Health building were created, the economy was ideal.
“The whole plan probably started about eight years ago,” said Jim Butler, Pierce College media engineer.
In 2010, the year of the AAH building’s completion, Pierce College lost 10 percent of its funding through budget cuts. With the Washington state Legislature talking of making even more cuts, it’s unlikely the drama department will be created any time soon.
“Can we, at this point in time when we are trying to make ends meet, start new programs?” asked Ann Salak, chair of the Arts and Humanities department and English professor.
Many Pierce Puyallup officials say they would love to have a full drama program and if funding improves, offer a part-time drama program. The facilities are there, just not the money to use them.
Among the facilities is a black box theater, costume shop, green room, scene shop and a box office. The theater can hold up to 257 people and has high-quality recording equipment.
The black box theater—a practice room for actors—has full-length mirrors, ballet bars and curtains to darken the room.
The costume shop’s purpose is for fitting and creating costumes. It has a washer, dryer, steamer and other tools for preparing and cleaning costumes.
The green room acts as a place for the performers to relax before the show. It has secure locks, a makeup counter and both male and female bathrooms each equipped with their own changing room.
The scene shop is used for making scene backdrops and is directly behind the stage.
The stage has a white drape to display projections of colors and images onto in order to change the setting or mood. It’s lined with a black curtain to create different sounds. If the curtain is drawn it makes the sound dead to improve articulation for speakers and if the curtain is reeled in then the wall creates a reverberation for music performers.
The theater has an automatic as well as a manual stage set up and a Yamaha LS9 digital soundboard that can used if needed to use more than six microphones.
Above the stage, it has a pipe lighting grid that works on swivels and a tension grid of aircraft cable.
“We can build any sort of lighting we want,” Butler said.
Televisions and speakers backstage and outside the theater are set up so that what’s being presented in the theater can be seen and heard.
In addition, the recording system in the theater is top of the line, according to Butler, and cost about $4,000. It was installed during the summer and plans to produce CDs for the upcoming concerts are in place.
Until then, the college uses the theater and facilities for other activities. It holds lectures, movies, music performances and other events. Before the theater was built, the choir would need to sing in the lecture hall in the library building that could only hold 150 people.
“You have to use the money for the greatest good to the majority of the students,” Salak said. As soon as there’s more money, drama classes will be added. “We won’t let it go to waste.”
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