R.E. Lee High School is going through a much-needed renovation which has affected many of its regular programs. Classes are moved, rooms are shared, and many facilities are entirely out of use. Lee's Theatre department has been displaced while awaiting the arrival of its new black-box theatre and the re-opening of its reconditioned auditorium. In the meantime, an old health room and the cafeteria have to suffice as rehearsal and performance spaces.
The students have taken the disruption of their usual routine with grace and style making use of every nook, cranny, and hallway. Students sew, paint and glue inches away from a 20-person cast that is rolling around the floor practicing for "Aesop's Fables." A table saw gets set up in the hallway and athletes pause to wait until plywood is cut before proceeding to their practices. Publicity posters, programs, and sandwich boards are created while costumers protect their bolts of fabric from open cans of paint. Drama has always been a close-knit group but this year they have been forced into this situation as the extreme.
Director Trena Weiss-Null considers it annoying but is trying to take advantage of the situation. "Many professional and community theatres have very limited space and primitive working conditions. By having to work in such close quarters and using alternative performance venues, the cast and crew are gaining valuable real-life experience that can help them when they leave Lee." She is upset that her "electric techies" (the ones who do lights and sound) don't have access to their equipment but has promised them that they may ply their crafts to their heart's content as soon as the auditorium is ready.
The entire department is excited about the prospect of the "black box theatre." A black box is exactly as its name implies. It is a windowless rectangular space that may be configured in many different ways. It will serve as the theatre classroom as well as an intimate performance space suitable for small shows and one act plays.
Lee Theatre is hopefully moving into their new "digs" in December and it can't come too soon. "We're auditioning the musical the last week in November and we need a suitable place to practice choreography with a large cast. As patient and cooperative as the kids have been this year, they deserve to start rehearsing the next show in a space built for that purpose," said Weiss-Null.