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Theatre Department receives a large donation

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The Whitcomb Lee Conservatory is where the theatre department calls home for now.

A large donation has been made to Doane’s Theatre Department to break ground on a long-awaited new theatre building.

The donor is unknown, as well as the exact amount of the donation. Theatre Professor Jeff Stander said that the theatre department was informed that the donation was the second largest in Doane’s fundraising history. The donation sits between $3-7 million. Although, Stander said that much more funds had to be secured before any construction plans were finalized.

Marty Fye, vice president for Institutional Advancement, chose not to comment on the donation. He said he wanted to wait until more funding for the building had been secured.

Stander started working at Doane in 2006. He said that a building built for the theatre department had been a hope for the department since he started. He said that he expected to wait another year or two before the rest of the funding for the building came through. He was more than willing to wait for the process to take its course, he said.

He said during his time at Doane, three or four different styles of theatre buildings had been discussed. The total costs of said buildings ranged from $7-14 million.

Stander said the idea of a new theatre building was exciting. He said that the building itself would be essential to the growth of the department. Whitcomb Lee Conservatory (the Con) has been a great space for numerous successful productions, Stander said. Stander said that the department was still limited on what they could do for each show. The Con is a completely open space and has no stage or equipment, besides lighting. Stander said much of theatre students’ time was spent constructing the environment for each show.

“Not having to build a stage every time we do a production just allows us to move further down the road in design development,” Stander said. “So, if we spend part of our construction phase building a stage, it just means, as we get toward the end, we have to truncate part of the process. So, finishing details, additional paintwork, those kinds of things that typically happen last in the design and production phase are elements that we could spend more time on.”

Stander said an ideal new building would have offices for professors. It would also have classrooms and shops attached to the theatre for students to work in. He said that for him, the goal of the new building would be to combine elements that the Con already provided, along with elements from Heckman Auditorium as well.

“The goal is to have a proscenium style space, so something similar to Heckman and a multi-form space, which is similar to the Con,” Stander said.

A convergence of the two types of spaces would still be able to uphold the department's intimate style of productions and still be flexible enough to create sets from scratch. They would not have to worry as much about seating and spacing issues, though.

President Jacque Carter was unable to be reached for comment about the proposed building at the time of publication.