As the first performance in the new Darryl J. King Student Life Centre approaches, the King’s University College theatre group is grateful for the benefits of the new theatre, but is facing some obstacles involving theatrical production.
The King’s Players, the theatre group funded by the King’s University College Students’ Council, is hosting the first performance in the Joanne and Peter Kenny Theatre. The 490-seat theatre is part of the recent $14.7-million development of the 38,000 square-foot multipurpose student centre, which had its grand opening last week.
“There are little things that we need to do to make it work whereas with an already established theatre, all those things are all ready for you to work with,” said Maude Sheppard, director of Little Shop of Horrors, which will be playing in the theatre later this month. “We’re kind of guinea pigs since we’re the first big performance that’s going on, so we just kind of have to deal with them for now.”
During the production stages, past members of King’s Players worked with the university and the alumni to find a balance between their requests and the construction of the theatre.
“It’s really difficult to build a full theatre with a backstage and wings and orchestra pit, but of course we did find a balance and [students] were always at the table finding solutions to these issues,” said David Sylvester, principal of King’s. “They have had to use some creativity to bring it to life.”
While the theatre’s disadvantages have impeded some of their recent production work, Sheppard said that the theatre has benefited the members of King’s Players with its close proximity to students.
“The benefits of the theatre is that it’s on campus, so it’s a lot more accessible to students,” said Sheppard. “It’s making it a lot easier for our rehearsals because people can come straight from class; transporting materials, props and sets is a lot easier.”
The theatre is named after donors Joanne and Peter Kenny who are significant supporters of King’s small, tight-knit campus community as well as the affiliate’s role as a leading liberal arts institute in Canada.