Rollins College black box theater project progresses

A new project for Rollins College stars a new black box theater to replace the old Fred Stone Theatre.

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  • | 9:40 a.m. December 7, 2018
The new black box theater at Rollins College will have a design that mirrors the rest of the campus.
The new black box theater at Rollins College will have a design that mirrors the rest of the campus.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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It’s getting closer to showtime for a new black box theater at Rollins College.

Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board members gave preliminary approval at their Tuesday, Dec. 4, meeting for the redevelopment of the former Fred Stone Theatre at Rollins College.

The old theater — which sat at the southwest corner of Fairbanks and Chase avenues before it was torn down earlier this year — will be replaced with a new 11,665-square-foot black box theater.

That new performance area will seat 130 people and feature retractable seating for maximum flexibility with the space, along with faculty offices, dressing rooms, classrooms and general storage areas.

“It was greatly needed — we have a wonderful theater department that was recently ranked in the top 25 in the nation for undergraduate theater programs, and that black box theater is a teaching space, and it’s a space where our students can practice not just acting but directing and producing shows,” Rollins College President Grant Cornwell said. “It’s a tremendously important teaching facility and the old Fred Stone was just end-of-life. It did not serve us well and it was old and tired and needed to come down.”

The new building not only will be far more pleasing to the eye from a design standpoint, but also it will function as more than a theater, Cornwell said.

“In addition, we also have a dance program that has facilities that are old and tired, and this is going to incorporate a dance studio right in with the black box theater, as well as classrooms for technical theater, sound and lighting,” Cornwell said. “It’s going to be a great teaching facility, and it’s going to take our nationally recognized theater program and enable us to move it forward.”

The footprint of the new building is larger than the previous theater and would involve closing the existing Chase Avenue to vehicular traffic and redeveloping it as a pedestrian path leading from Fairbanks Avenue into the campus.

One thing is for sure: The students at Rollins College can’t wait for the show to go on at the new theater, Cornwell said.

“From the time I got to Rollins, students have been lobbying me for a new black box theater — letter-writing campaigns and the whole thing,” Cornwell said. “They’re thrilled that finally they’re going to have a facility that they really do need and deserve. There’s a tremendous amount of excitement for it.”


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