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Blackbox theater still seeks budget and plan

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

A group of students are voicing their concerns about the growing wait for a new black box theater to break ground. Current estimates show its completion in Fall 2021.

The prior black box, The Fred Stone Theatre, was condemned in March 2018. According to most recent updates, the building’s construction was tentatively delayed from Spring 2020 until Fall 2021. However, this end date is uncertain. 

Jeremy Williamson, director of Facilities Services for planning and construction, said, “This project is currently in the design process and a budget has not yet been developed.  As such, we do not have an estimated timeline right now for when construction would begin and end.”

The blackbox is used as a classroom space as well as a home to second stage productions, which are student-directed shows. In addition, the black box is where the Rollins Improv Players perform.

While this year’s upperclassmen experienced the Fred Stone Theatre, the freshmen and sophomore classes have yet to experience an on-campus space like it.

“We had a great space at the Fred Stone from what I’ve heard,” said Carlie Miles (‘23). “But now with Lyman it’s more of a makeshift space and it works, but it’s not the best for performances and it would be easier to reach out to the community through an actual theater where it’s easier to accommodate more people.”

The current theater location is the top floor of what used to be an office building. It temporarily housed the Center for Inclusion & Campus Involvement and the Lucy Cross Center. 

The structure of the building makes both lighting and sound for the show difficult, as well as finding the space to do makeup or costuming.

“I know currently the actors do their makeup in the restroom open to the general public because there isn’t any other space. So anyone who comes to house early and has to use the restroom the actors are getting ready in the restroom as well,” said Miles.

The current black box is located at 203 E Lyman Avenue. The location itself is relatively far from the heart of campus, resulting in students being  confused about its location. The theater is not included on Rollins’ online map. 

“It’s very hard to figure out where it is. Each year for the freshman we do tours over there. If we have an event we walk them over because just explaining [directions] gets them lost,” said Samantha Clarke (‘21).

In addition, the building is currently being used to teach classes in the same space used to put on productions.

Miles said that “it would be much better to have a theater and to teach and put on productions in a theater or even in more of a designated blackbox area.”

Despite the building’s shortcomings, students and faculty are doing their best with the space they have been provided.

“I’m grateful that we actually have it and that we can do the second stage because all of that is run by students and we fund all the productions in there. We’re just grateful that we have a place we can be,” said Clarke.

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