Last year when the announcement was made that the Design and Production facilities on Huntington Ave. were being sold I felt betrayed. I felt as though BU had pulled the rug out from under my feet as soon as I was starting to get acquainted with facilities where I hoped to spend my four years honing my craft.
For a while we -the freshman class- had no idea what this would mean for the rest of our time here at BU. Many talked of dropping the program or transferring to different schools, making it quite chaotic for a while. Often times when asking for information on what the University had planned, we received “your guess is as good as mine” in response. And, as frustrating as that was, the thing that worried me the most was that they weren’t being secretive or coy-they genuinely didn’t know.
It was finally around this time last year when BU Today announced that the new building would be constructed on the Charles River Campus right across the street from the CFA. The news felt like a relief initially, but it also caused new concerns to arise for some D&P students. The BU Today article gave us an idea as to what our new facility would look like, but also showed how short the University’s timeline was for making it all happen.
The projected completion date for the new facility was Fall of 2017. However, the real estate where this new building was going to be built was still a parking lot; and on top of that, design plans for the facility had yet to be approved by the Town of Brookline council.
Despite the overwhelming lack of confidence in BU’s ability to actually make the Fall of 2017 deadline, our advisers assured us all that the University would pull through. Despite whether or not they believed it themselves, or if they were just saying it to calm our nerves, I trusted them. I realized that spreading negative feelings about what could or could not happen was pointless, and instead I took up a position in support of the University’s decision.
Since the University announced that it was going to sell the Huntington I began to see all the things that made their decision make more sense. For one, a new building would mean that our classes were no longer taught in basements, and hallways that we renamed “conference rooms” to make ourselves feel better. We wouldn’t have to worry about wearing our full winter gear while sitting through Intro to Design in February because the 100 year old windows no longer had a great seal. Dodging bits of ceiling falling from the roof as you walked through the prop shop, or pausing a lecture in AutoCAD class for 10 minutes while we waited for the mysterious banging to subside from the scene shop above would all be things of the past. Although some saw these things as part of “the charisma of the theatre” as one of my classmates once argued, I saw them as figures that had to be considered when determining the affordability and maintenance costs of that facility.
Everyday I walk by that construction site and I pause for a moment just to watch the construction workers meticulously laying rebar, pouring concrete, or bolting massive I-beams together. I imagine what it will look like once it is actually done, how it will feel to create in the new scene shop and how that will be my home for the next two years. I hope that our new proximity to the rest of the students at BU will actually get people interested in our shows and that we will start to see more faces in the audience that aren’t CFA students.
As lucky as we have all been to be able to work so closely with the Huntington Theatre Company for such a long time and perform on that incredible regional theatre stage, I truly believe that this facility will provide so many new opportunities for D&P and Performance students alike.
I truly cannot wait for the move into the new building next year. I know it won’t be perfect at first, there will definitely be kinks that will need to get worked out as the entire program adjusts to our new spaces. However, I truly am counting down the days until we get to have something that for the first time in over 30 years that is completely and totally ours.