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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wichita State's new Welsbacher theater opens Sept. 10

By Chelsea Twietmeyer
Eagle correspondent

The newly renovated and expanded Welsbacher Black Box Theatre at Wichita State University will offer students more freedom in designing, lighting and performing their shows, say those involved with the project.

The new theater will be dedicated Sept. 10.

Black Box theaters are simple, unstructured rooms with black walls, floors and ceilings that offer a clean palette for whatever scenery and setup performers can imagine.

The Welsbacher Theatre originally was in a different spot inside the university's Hughes Metropolitan Complex.

That space was needed for the speech, language and hearing clinic, so the black box was relocated to a different spot in the southeast corner of the building.

The space is bigger and adds many amenities — a box office, restrooms reserved just for theater patrons, a private entrance and a small lobby.

"It will give them a lot more opportunity in how they design sets," said Linda Starkey, director of the WSU School of Performing Arts.

Starkey says students could even put the stage in the middle of the theater and place the audience right in the action.

The new theater can accommodate between 90 and 110 people, depending on how it's arranged, Starkey said.

The theater is named after Wichita State University professor emeritus Richard Welsbacher, who worked at the university for more than 40 years.

"He was for years the director of theater at WSU," Starkey said. "He's retired now but is still well-known in the community."

Welsbacher will be at the dedication and the open house with his family. The dedication will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10 with an open house from 7 to 8 p.m.

The first production at the new theater is scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. "Something Slavic" is an original script written by sophomore Josh Brown, the winner of the WSU playwright contest.

Seating for the dedication is limited, so reservations are required by Friday. All are invited to attend the open house, which will include light refreshments.

If you go

Welsbacher Black Box Theatre dedication and open house

When: Dedication from 5:30 to 7 p.m., open house from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 10

Where: Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 5015 E. 29th St. North

Reservations: Call 316-978-6634 by Friday to reserve a seat at the dedication.

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