“We’re going places!” exclaimed James Arrington, chair of the Theatrical Arts department, at the Sept. 11 ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Noorda Theatre. Made possible by a generous gift from Tye Noorda, the state-of-the-art facility is more than just a performance theater. It will also provide a variety of resources for education, community development, research and dreams of all sorts.
Dr. D. Terry Petrie, the former chair of the Theatrical Arts department, was very involved in the process of creating the theatre. He used the Native American tradition of dream catchers as an analogy for the theatre, explaining that Tye Noorda is the dream maker, while the people involved in the theatre are the dream weavers who create the web that allows the dreams to be caught. He described it as “a place where dream weavers may gather.”
“We stayed unified in our dream,” Petrie said.
Tye Noorda, who reminisced about her informal performances for chickens as a child, feels deeply about educating young people about speech. “Everybody needs to be able to express things well … [It’s] not just what you say, but how you say it.” When asked about her personal dream for UVU students, she said “[The theater is] just to help them.”
It is this passion which drove her to establish the Noorda Regional Theatre Center for Children & Youth. Its interim director, Katherine Farmer, explained the mission of the program.
“We’ve been trying to build a building AND a program,” she said. “We’re trying to be a resource. We are trying to be an engaged community … We are eager to be a positive influence in the community.”
Before cutting the ribbon, President Holland expressed his appreciation for Tye Noorda. “For your generosity, for your time, for you commitment to the finer things in life … we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The theater community at UVU feels forever changed by this gift.
“They have an opportunity to be in one of the finest theaters in the state,” said Bruce Christensen, dean of the School of Arts, of the facility’s impact on students. “They will be able to practice in a first-rate facility.”
“It’s like a validation for all the work we do. It’s such a blessing,” said Jake Porter, a theatre arts major who stars as Wilbur in the theater’s inaugural performance, CHARLOTTE’S WEB. The ribbon cutting included a short preview of the show, which opens Sept. 17.
“My only regret in this theater is that I can’t sit up front and watch myself,” said Arrington. But the next best thing is available: The main stage has audio and video recording systems. These not only serve as a way for the performers to see themselves, but the stage manager will use the technology to monitor the stage so that cues can be followed. Additionally, there will be an audio and video feed in the lobby so that those arriving late or who have to step out won’t miss the performance as they wait for a chance to enter the theater.
Not only a stage for school-sponsored shows, the Noorda Theatre will give students a chance to perform their own work. The old Black Box Theater, now referred to as the “Ex-Box” will now be available for unofficial student productions, which opens up opportunities for more edgy and original work. It will also be available for community use.
One of the unique features of the theatre is the room known as the white box or smart room. In addition to serving as a classroom, it also has a sound booth and video recording systems. These features allow students to be recorded as they perform, which can be used to assess student growth and improvement. It also allows for the creation of a digital portfolio of auditions and performances, an invaluable resource that will aid students in furthering their professional careers.
“I don’t know of any theater program in the country that provides that level of support for their students,” said Isaac Walters, who is in charge of the theatre department’s marketing.
For a visual tour of the new Noorda Theatre, visist www.uvureview.com