Theater classroom to get big makeover

Drama students will soon have a classroom decked out as they need it so they can act the way performers do.

By the time the fall semester rolls around, room IC5 in the Arts and Humanities building will have undergone a complete makeover. It will have changed into a theater lab.

The walls and windows will be painted black, the lighting will be replaced, and the still-in-progress movable stage will be added to the room.

Already the classroom’s old desks have gone away.


“We’ve replaced them with tables and chairs,” said Brent Noel, professor of theater arts.

The classroom will not only be used for classes.

“We will use it for ‘theatrical research,’” Noel said. “It will be a place where students will be able to perform, to try out new things. We will find out what works and what doesn’t.”

The room also could be used for activities such as poetry readings, said Susan VanSchuyver, dean of the Arts and Humanities Division.

The theater program will continue to use the other stage in the Bruce Owen Theater. Room 1C5 will be used to experiment.

“The soon-to-be lab is an ideal spot for theater students and teachers,” said Ruth Charnay, chair for the Communications and Arts Department. The prop rooms are adjacent to the classroom, she said, pointing to a door in the back corner that connects the room to the Bruce Owen Theater.

The black color of the room will do more than absorb light.

“It helps with the imagination,” Charnay said.

Noel commented on how the dark color will allow both the performers and the audience to easily imagine the scene being performed.

Theater students also see the benefit.

“It’s another space for us,” said Mitch McFarland, a recent theater graduate who will return to campus this fall to complete a degree in physics. “During rehearsals there’s nowhere to go.”

McFarland explained that when the Bruce Owen Theater is being used for other functions, such as meetings or Cultural Arts programs, the theater students have difficulty finding places to practice. A classroom that is built for theater will be beneficial for those moments.

McFarland said he considers it a wonderful idea.

Shawna Roggow, another OCCC student who has participated in past theater projects, shares her thoughts.

“It makes me excited to go back,” Roggow said. “It’s awesome.”

Theater students will not be the only ones to use the transformed classroom.

It will be available to other OCCC students as well. The room will usually be occupied, Charnay said.

To contact Kate Johnson, email


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