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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information Officer
(310) 434-4209
DATE: Sept. 11, 2006

$17 Million Facility Dramatic Campus Centerpiece

Santa Monica College is proud to announce the ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new $17 million Theatre Arts Building – a state-of-the-art, architecturally dramatic facility – at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27.

The celebration, which will include tours, light refreshments and entertainment showcasing theatre arts students, is free and open to the public. For information, call (310) 434-4303.

“The opening of this building marks an important milestone in the history of this college,” said SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang. “This beautiful facility will catapult our already outstanding theatre arts program to new heights.”

The 20,000-square-foot theater complex, designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm, LEO A DALY, Los Angeles, features a 264-seat theater with full backstage capabilities, a “black box” performance space, lobby, shop, dressing rooms, classrooms and offices. It replaces the former, overcrowded, 50-year-old facility that was originally built as a children’s theater in the early 1950s.

The new building, which opened for classes Aug. 28, the first day of the fall semester, was funded by Measure U, the $160 million bond that was approved by Santa Monica-Malibu voters in 2002.

“Our new theater is already renewing and revitalizing our program,” said Perviz Sawoski, theatre arts department chair. “We’re excited about filling this facility with outstanding plays, beginning with Evita in October, with excellent production values.”

The project marks a new chapter for a department known for its excellence and for a list of distinguished alumni that includes two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman, James Dean, Doug McClure and Oscar nominee Gloria Stuart (“Titanic”).

SMC has transferred drama students to outstanding universities worldwide, including Juilliard, New York University, and the Guildford School of Drama/University of Surrey in England.

In recent years, the college has garnered top honors in the prestigious Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival. In 2002, Slavery, a play with music by then-SMC student Jonathan Payne, was selected from more than 360 plays at colleges and universities throughout the nation for the festival. In 1997, the SMC production of “Once on this Island” also made it to the Kennedy Center finals. In both cases, the plays were the only community college productions to be selected for performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, the department has staged a wide variety of dramas, comedies and musicals, ranging from such classics as Medea to popular Broadway musicals like Cabaret to new works such as Tibet.
During the three-year construction of the new building, the department held classes and staged its plays in a temporary theater at SMC’s satellite campus at Santa Monica Airport.

The design of the new building’s exterior is distinguished by a unique, origami-like, angular roof that soars over the lobby and outdoor balcony.

From an entry plaza sheltered under two large coral trees that are campus landmarks, visitors enter a two-story high lobby and ascend a grand staircase to an upper lobby with an outdoor balcony covered by the angular, wing-like roof. This balcony overlooks what will be the main quad of the campus, making it an ideal gathering spot during intermission for relaxation, reflection and conversation.

The interior of the theater is sloped at a steep angle, providing every seat in the house an exceptional view and sense of intimacy with the stage. The full backstage capabilities include lighting and sound, as well as a full fly-loft, shop, service dock, dressing rooms and costume areas.

The building’s exterior is wrapped in a corrugated metal skin with a silver metallic finish, combined with durable industrial-style materials, such as concrete for walls, and exposed-steel structural beams and columns.

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