Theatre at WPI has taken many forms in the school's history. As dramatists, we have adapted many venues to function for creative live theatre. Modern theatre has pushed conventional boundaries to extraordinary lengths, and WPI has pursued many facets of this practice. Memorable performances have enforced the fact that modern theatre has reversed the notion that form follows content. The creation of the new Little Theatre, in Sanford Riley Hall, enforces the concept that the space has become form and any and all art to be performed in the space be the content. This notion perpetuates the idea that this modern theatre will continue to further push our boundaries.
This project has evolved from a conceptualization of a comprehensive manual of how to operate a modern theatre to an examination on how modern theatre will be created with the advent of a new theatre space. As the project progressed, it became clear that for the operations to be fulfilled, the philosophy and art of modern theatre needed to be comprehended. Comprehension and self-awareness stems from knowledge, knowledge gleaned from delving into the history of a multitude of aspects ranging from the history of modern theatre, to the history of the little theatre movement in Worcester, to the history of the new space. We researched these topics as a way to gain a keen perspective into the past to guide our actions into the future. Because it is said that one cannot know where they are going until they know where they have been, this research has given valuable insight to the forms of modern theatre that can be achieved at WPI. The compilation of these histories created working theatrical resources, in, around, and on the WPI campus.
Technology has aided Modern Theatre, with the inclusion of modern theatre equipment. When Andre Antoine, the first recognized modern theatre leader, produced theatre, he did not have the advantage of the advanced technical equipment that is available to us. To further our comprehension and implementation of modern theatre, we also extensively researched the equipment that will help convey our art. Manuals are an essential tool to the opening of the new space, so that we can expand the art of the space by allowing all students to gain full knowledge of all technological equipment in the theatre. In addition, we created a series of manuals for stage managers and house managers with any and all information they may need in order to run a successful show. These manuals are designed for use by people of all levels of theatrical knowledge to help guide their use of the equipment. This will allow virtually anyone interested in theatre, regardless of previous experience, to be able to create a production of merit and intent without any form of instruction other than the manuals provided, via paper or internet source, updated as new equipment and experiences manifest themselves during the life of the Little Theatre. These series of informative reference manuals are filled with information such as how to interact with various departments on campus for putting on a production, technical specifications of equipment, and space guidelines.
The importance of technology can easily blind the importance of the art that we are creating in the new space. Technology, although important, has become the new spectacle element to theatre. We came to the conclusion that to focus more on the art of theatre, and the potential influence that this new space would have on all future productions at WPI, was as relevant if not more, relevant than documentation. Although important, documentation does not creatively express how the technology can be applied through the art. This realization, that creative art was a higher form opened our eyes because without the art, all the lights and sound effects become pointless. Technology doesn’t create the art, it enhances.
As a result, our IQP presents a variety of resources for the Little Theatre. It is inclusive of reference manuals with an assortment of important information one should know when putting on a production, an extensive database of resources available to the theatre community at WPI, a video providing driving directions to the new Little Theatre (which we hope will help boost attendance for all the productions to come) and an immense amount of manuals and instructional material for all technological equipment. We also mirrored the content of this project on WPI web space as an additional accessible resource.
Finally, our collective creativity explored and probed the seemingly limitless horizon of potential that this new theatre will provide with the creation of a series of scenic designs for the new space which allowed us to explore the new ways in which the space can form the theatrical art. By designing different scenic designs for a number of different plays, including an historic (Shakespeare), a modern (Miller), and a play festival, we have become aware of the limitless options that are now available to us to create theatre uninhibited by restrictions. This particular task has made us keenly aware that this new space will completely transform the way theatre is created at WPI.
The intent of the Interactive Qualifying Project is to bridge technology and society together, and in that vein, this IQP takes this burgeoning cultural cornerstone and creates an exciting art form explored within society and technology.
~ Catherine Carrigan, Allison DiNitto, Jonathan Lucas
Jarthly Monterroso, Amanda Jean Nowack, John Remby
Susan Vick, Advisor