New black box opens possibilities

With construction of the black box theater ending, performing arts classes have a fresh resource


Carli Stellwagon

The new black box theater will be used for future performances.

By Kira Auchenbach

The LHS theater department currently produces two plays a year. But with the recently completed new black box theater, the opportunity to produce more plays expands with more performance space.
“I’m excited that it’s there [the new black box], and we’re going to have opportunities to do smaller shows,” sophomore Mia Romano said.

Among the changes made to the front of the building during bond construction, the expanded black box theater can be used for theater productions, meetings, speeches and music storage.

With a new black box, the performing arts department will be able to expand its performances with more short plays, class space and extra playing space for the band and orchestra.

“I think that just having another break out space for all of us to rehearse and practice for all of us would be amazing,” English and drama teacher Jamie Johnson said. “I’m hoping it gives us more performance opportunities.”

Although the school had a black box before construction, the new one, with a light grid and adjustable seating, is better equipped for student use. Assistant principal Mike Norris said the new addition cost an estimated $740,000 and is 3,700 square feet.

“It was sort of an equity project because Free State has a black box theater,” Johnson said. “We have one, but it’s old. It’s an older building, so it’s been around for a long time, and we are just really outgrowing our space.”

Johnson hopes to be able to use the new black box for rehearsal space, school productions and extra class space for the acting classes.

“I think it will afford us with more performances which…gives more students a chance to be on stage,” Johnson said. “There’s more people we can cast, and that’s optimal, being able to cast as many students every year so a bunch of people can have experience.”
The district also plans to hold small performances in the black box. Community meets and staff meetings can be another black box use.
The construction on the black box has also created additional storage space for the orchestra and band programs.
“Our orchestra doesn’t have enough storage in their space. They need uniforms, they need instruments,” assistant director of orchestra Andrew Shaw said. “When we transitioned from a 10 through 12 building to a nine through 12 building, the storage did not increase.”

Theater would like to do four productions a year, including smaller ones in the black box. It now has a light grid and seating that is able to be moved in different ways.

“I think that we will have to adjust — with anything that gives you limitations I think it also gives you opportunities,” Johnson said.