(VIDEO) While the Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre undergoes renovations, faculty and students are taking their shows on the road, performing throughout the Lubbock community.
When Mark Charney, director of the Texas Tech University School of Theatre & Dance in the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA), began planning for the 2018-19 theater season, he had his work cut out for him. An ongoing renovation and expansion project on the school's theater and dance complex meant the Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre, the usual spot for performances, was out of the question for the season.
When most theaters lose a space, they look for other theaters to rent. Charney remembered that years ago, after a fire in the school, many of the performances were held at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) or the Lubbock Community Theatre. But this time, he had a different idea – why not use this opportunity to take the theater to the people?
“We decided that we'd make locations for the whole season either site-specific or found spaces,” Charney said. “Site-specific is when you choose a site that is exactly right for the play, and found spaces are when you can't find exactly the right site, but you make the space work for the play itself.”
Now, each of the season's shows have been scheduled at various places around Lubbock – the first, “Of Beauty Queens and Childhood Dreams,” will open at LHUCA's Christine DeVitt Icehouse, 511 Ave. K, Monday (Sept. 24) and run through Sept. 30. In total, nine shows will take place in the community. The season will close with “Canterville,” a site-specific, immersive theater experience inspired by Oscar Wilde's classic comic ghost story, “The Canterville Ghost.” The show will run April 29 to May 5 at a private home in Tech Terrace.
“There was a wonderful woman who lives nearby who's giving up her house for our last piece – she's actually moving out of her house so we can use it for the play,” Charney said. “The second play of the season, ‘Hands on a Hardbody,' is about a competition to win a truck based on how long people can hold their hand on the truck.”
The truck in the show is a Nissan truck. When Charney approached McGavock Nissan Lubbock about the possibility of performing the musical in their parking lot, the team at the dealership was excited about partnering with Texas Tech. Executive manager and dealer principal Brent McGavock said working with the university will benefit not just those involved in the performance and the people who attend the show – it also benefits the dealership.
“Activity breeds activity for us, and it gets excitement for us,” McGavock said. “That's the ultimate goal – to get people to come out to your store. When you can have the access for people to come here and be a partner with Texas Tech, it'll only help us. We just couldn't be more excited about the offer to have them come on our lot.”
For Charney, being able to present shows in places that may be more accessible to people who may not be able to make it out to the Texas Tech campus is just one more way TCVPA is making an impact outside the college and giving back to a community that provides so much support to their faculty, staff and students.
“Lubbock is generous and open and has tried really hard to be inexpensive in terms of partnering with us,” Charney said. “I think what we're proud of in the School of Theatre & Dance is that we like to think of Lubbock as our campus. Our students understand the responsibility they have to share their art in different areas. We sort of feel like this is tying in with our emphasis on community engagement.
“We want to go someplace where audiences don't usually have theater. Theater doesn't have to be within the confines of what we're used to as a regular space. Theater can happen anywhere. We're just trying to prove that.”
For more information, including a complete list of shows, times, locations and how to purchase tickets, visit the School of Theatre & Dance season website.