The Charles Winterwood Theatre is known for holding some of the city’s best shows within its walls. It has served as a place for young actors to showcase their talents and live out their dreams of performing on stage. The theater usually showcases about four productions per year – mostly performed by FAMU students.
However, construction to the theater has made this season difficult for many of the actors. The theater has changed a great deal and many of the students are worried about what else could happen.
Last December, the theater, located in Tucker Hall, was scheduled to have a new air unit installed. The theater was supposed to be ready by Jan. 6, but students are still waiting.
“The construction has forced us to cancel one show this season and reschedule another,” said Luther D. Wells, the associate director of FAMU’s theatre program. “We have also had to move classes from the theater to other locations on the campus.”
“The theater was supposed to be ready Jan. 6, then Feb. 18, and now they are telling us March 4,” Wells said.
The theater has a reputation that has extended beyond the campus, with local and out-of-state alumni, as well as Tallahassee residents, consistently coming to see shows. Many theatre students who set goals for themselves to get in a certain amount of main stage shows may have their hopes dashed.
“Competition is tough,” said Anthony Green Jr., a 21-year-old theater student from Charleston, S.C. “But it’s hard to be motivated when there’s a big hole in the ceiling. In the beginning of the semester, I was very motivated and I had my mind set that I was going to be in both shows of the semester, but now with the construction they had to cancel one and the other keeps getting pushed back.”
The beginning of the season was supposed to start with “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf,” a student-run project. The production would have been followed by “William Shakespeare’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged.” Due to the construction, the second play had to be canceled.
“The theater is like our main area for classes, meetings and productions,” Green said.
Many students are upset by the cancellation of the Shakespeare play because student performers would have received classical training in preparation. Without sufficient space for practice and lessons, concern has grown regarding the upkeep of the FAMU acting community.
“The students of the theatre want to perform; that’s what many of them pay for,” said David Dolphy, a 22-year-old theatre student from Tampa. “But they can’t perform the way they would like to without the theater.”
There is still hope the undergraduate actors will be able to pick up where they left off and resume their studies. For those expecting a spring graduation, there may be no such luck.
“I’m about to graduate this spring and it’s just making everything difficult, Dolphy said. “I didn’t think my last semester would end like this.”