Theater re-opening delayed until spring 2015

The renovation of Pierce College’s Performing Arts Building was expected to be finished in 2012, but has been delayed again, this time until 2015.

The upgrade began in summer 2011, and was initially expected to be completed by fall 2012. Architectural issues pushed it back to fall 2014. But now the theater is scheduled to open in spring 2015.

The latest delay was an issue with the drop ceiling over the main stage theater, Pierce College theater manager Michael Sande said.

“The schedule that we had announced to our supporters was that we’d start the season back up there,” Sande said. “But that building was supposed to be opened already the first day of the fall semester because we hold classes, too. We don’t just do plays, we teach classes as well.”

The theater still has yellow tape and roadblocks blocking off its entrances.

“We’re moving forward to get a solution in place that will give us back the use of the main-stage theater,” Director of facilities Paul Nieman said.

The entire theatre department was displaced and relocated to the green buildings across from the Child Development Center and the Center for Sciences during the ongoing construction.

“All of these buildings are temporary. These are all rented, portable buildings,” Sande said. “There are classrooms, a rehearsal room, shops for costumes, shops to build our sets.”

The department has also used a tent as a makeshift performance venue.

“We were fortunate that the school provided us with that and with all of (the rented buildings),” Sande said. “The music department, during this renovation, had to go do all their programs and concerts off campus because the theater tent is not large enough for an orchestra.”

The tent has been an adequate temporary replacement for the theater department, but has had its share of shortcomings, particularly its size.

“The tent is okay, but it’s difficult to work around it, especially if you have a scene with different actors,” Theater major Abby Soskin said. “It’s kind of difficult, being an actor you have to have to have a lot of space to move around and you can’t really do that in the tent.”

The tent’s limited seating affected ticket sales, which made it difficult for the department to break even on events.

“When we do large musicals, they are very hard to produce in this space,” Sande said.

The tent was set up in summer 2011, and was supposed to be a temporary home.

The theater department expects to move back to the theater in spring 2015. The rented buildings will open up the area, but the tent, which is owned by Pierce College, will stay.

“The school hasn’t decided yet what the tent will be used for,” Sande said. “It will not be part of our theater department. It’s a multi purpose tent. The insides, the theater’s seats, all the lighting equipment, all the sound equipment, all of that is our department’s, and that will go back. Everything inside goes up to our regular building.”