By Nina Nesseth
When audiences visit Thorneloe University to enjoy the next theatre production, they will be bound to notice some changes to the Ernie Checkeris Theatre. Over the December break, the theatre has received some much-needed renovations.
“The renovations to the theatre have been desperately needed for several years now,” said Jenny Hazelton, Thorneloe’s technical director. Thorneloe’s staff and community have worked to raise funds for renovations over the past years, most notably through the launch of a playscript reading series, as well as through concession sales at mainstage performances.
The most significant change was to the theatre’s seating. Before the renovations, many of the seats were broken: writing desks would easily become detached, and some of the seats had to be replaced by chairs. As well, the time it took to collapse the seats to do work in the theatre was enormous. All of the writing desk components needed to be individually removed and stowed before the seats could be collapsed and pushed back.
A complete refurbishment of the seating system has taken place with new carpeting, photoluminescent stair nosing, and high quality pneumatic collapsing seat sections. The seats include built-in magnetic writing desks so that the space can continue to be used as a lecture hall. These desks do not need to be removed to push back the seats. With this new system in place, it is much less strenuous and time-consuming for one person, such as Hazelton, to collapse the seats and alter the theatre space.
The theatre has also replaced its deteriorating drapery with new fabric that is of the highest quality available in the industry. Improvements such as these to the theatre benefit not only the actors and technical crew working within its environment, but also the audience members and students who use the space to take in performances and lectures.
“The theatre looks brand new,” said Hazelton, “and it is certainly a more comfortable space in which to work and to watch theatre.”