Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's Been So Long Since Last We Met ...

Last weekend it was my immense pleasure to attend a weekend of activities at my alma mater sponsored by the Georgetown Theatre Alumni. Events included a performance of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good at the new Gonda Theatre in the new Royden B. Davis, S.J., Performing Arts Center. Our Country's Good, set in early colonial Australia and about the mounting of a play by an unlikely cast of actors, became the premiere production in the long-awaited center, built as an addition to the old Ryan Administration Building (once Georgetown University's gymnasium, later the site of the student bank, run for many years as a branch of the recently demised Riggs National Bank).

Rather than wax nostalgic about the weekend visit to the Hilltop -- my first since the last time I attended a GTA alumni event, in 2002 -- through words, I have decided to photoblog the weekend. Please enjoy.

Any visit to Georgetown University should begin with paying respects to Archbishop John Carroll, founder of the school and first Catholic bishop of the United States, whose statue stands (sits?) in the middle of Healy Circle.

A familiar landmark on the D.C. skyline (such as it is), Healy Tower contains a clock whose hands are a frequent object of larceny (or at least borrowing) by mischievous Georgetown students.

For over 100 years, Dahlgren Chapel has been the spiritual center of Georgetown's campus. Beneath the chapel is the crypt where the Dahlgren family is buried, and a room where I used to practice, under the direction of Elaine Rendler, with the Georgetown University Chapel Choir (which, contrary to the campus ministry web site, was founded and active long before the year 2002).

Drew Courtney, a GTA board member, led a tour of campus sites where Georgetown student theatre groups have performed. Here he points to Maguire Hall, which is featured in the earliest recorded report of a theatre performance on campus that also mentions a specific location.

Gaston Hall, with its highly decorated walls, was another early venue for Georgetown theatre performances.

GTA board member Jason Yarn videotapes part of the historical theatre tour in Gaston Hall. Other alumni sit in the row before him.

Poulton Hall has been the home of Mask & Bauble for more than 40 years, so it was natural for the magical history tour to take us there. M&B has been based in Stage III since 1976, and before that in Stage I (affectionately known as "the Cave") and, briefly, in the ill-fated Stage II, which never saw a performance other than its birth by stealth.

Ron Lignelli, managing director of Georgetown's Program in Performing Arts, makes a point about the technical difficulties of producing shows in Poulton Hall.

The highlight of the tour was, of course, the new performing arts center, named for the former dean of Georgetown College, Father Royden B. Davis, S.J. So please indulge me as I include more than one photo of this fascinating stop on the tour.

The main entrance to the new performing arts center, formerly the Ryan Administration Building.

Ted Parker (right), an adjunct professor at Georgetown and technical advisor to the Program in Performing Arts, conducted the exclusive alumni tour of the new Davis Center, beginning in the spacious lobby.

The new scenic design and construction shop at the performing arts center is truly gargantuan, particularly when compared to what was available to Georgetown theatre groups in the past. This overhead shot shows only a portion of the brightly lit, airy room with state-of-the-art equipment.

A costume shop! With sewing machines and ironing boards and dressmakers dummies.

The Davis Center overlooks the Jesuit cemetery and the Intercultural Center.

Of course, the opposite is true, too: from the base of the ICC is a great view of the back of the new Davis Center, with the Jesuit graveyard in between the two academic buildings.

This image may seem quotidian to most people, but in the context of Georgetown theatre, this is earthshattering: What you see is a shower attached to the dressing room. And nearby is a toilet. And there is more than one dressing room with these amenities! (By the way, there were several actors performing in Our Country's Good last Friday whom I would happily photograph in this setting.)

I couldn't resist taking this picture. Current students will find this hard to believe, but Old North Hall, the oldest building on Georgetown's campus, was once a residence hall. Behind the window in the lower left of this photo is the room I lived in as a freshman. Really.

The banquet Saturday night was meant to add three new names to the Donn B. Murphy Hall of Fame, attracting about 50 alumni, students, and family members. Here are SFS alumna Susan Swope, GTA at-large board member Michael Radolinski, and the namesake of the Georgetown theatre hall of fame, Dr. Donn B. Murphy.

Having a good time? It looks like GTA board members Drew Courtney and Sally Richardson were enjoying themselves.

So too, it seems, was Austin Williams, currently Technical Director on the board of the Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society.

Meanwhile, GTA board member Christina Logothetis appears to be deep in conversation with M&B Executive Producer Sami Ghazi.

Still, Christina couldn't resist working her way to the dance floor to have some fun with Austin.

I took a good many other photos over the weekend, but I thought it best to leave with this image -- a string of balloons decorating the room where the Hall of Fame banquet took place. (I may post more images later this week.)

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