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Theatre on the move

Ohio State’s theatre, film and media arts prepare for a new home in 2023

After 50 years, the curtain is closing on The Ohio State University’s Drake Performance and Event Center. But the end of an era on one part of campus leads to a new beginning on another.

The university’s Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts is moving to a new building in the emerging Ohio State arts district later this year. The modern environment is a new opportunity to expand on the department’s core mission.

E.J. Westlake“The entire institution, to me, is extremely outward facing. It takes its land-grant mission very seriously. I think that if you’re going to address some of the most challenging problems we have in the world today, we’ve got to approach them interdisciplinarily,” said E.J. Westlake, chair and professor of theatre, film, and media arts. “The arts have to be a part of that. Creative thinking is the cornerstone of critical thinking. And so, I’m excited that… we’re preparing our students to … engage with real-world problems in really creative and effective ways.”

The new five-floor building includes classroom, performance, studio and office space. State-of-the-art performance spaces include a 450-seat theatre and a hybrid thrust/black box theatre.

The new building will include a New Works Lab for new and experimental productions, a lighting lab, a design studio and a costume shop.

“Here we actually teach the students how to sew the garments for the shows,” said Loren “Coco” Mayer, costume wardrobe supervisor. “[This] new generation is taking more care into finding out about the humanities, the arts – what is it? Can I sustain myself? Can I make a career at it? They really are investigating those possibilities.”

Spaces for students studying film, moving-image production and media arts will include two sound stages, editing suites, a sound lab and a screening room.

With the Timashev Family Music Building next door, the Theatre, Film and Media Arts Building creates a community for artistic, educational, social and commercial interchange.

“Theater is a form of living for me,” said Tyla Daniel, a theatre and communications major. “It lets you get to experience different walks of life, different aspects of life, thoughts, ideas, problems – some of which you would never originally even think or consider. And it makes you ponder things. It makes you question how you view the world around you. And even as you are portraying these characters, it makes you consider how you view yourself.”

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