Lack of Space to Hurt Shows, Budgets

Groups anticipate smaller audiences.

Student-run theater companies will be scaling down their productions and bracing for tighter budgets this year as campus construction projects shrink available stage space.

Theatergoers can expect to see smaller casts, simpler scenery and possibly higher ticket prices as UNC acting groups vie for performance sites.

Pauper Players and Company Carolina are both dealing with the temporary loss of the Cabaret, now off-limits as the Student Union prepares for further renovations, scheduled for completion in late 2003.

Leigh Conaway, a producer for Company Carolina, said the group used to rely on the Cabaret when its usual venue, Swain Hall, was booked. Departmental issues in Swain, which arose last spring, compounded the loss of the Union space. The company was left with only one guaranteed performance in Swain Hall this year.

The group has few options. Venues such as the Great Hall, Gerrard Hall and the Union Auditorium have already been claimed by events that would normally book Memorial Hall. Company Carolina found venues for most of its planned spring shows, but sites for its fall performances are still up in the air.

The group might have to compromise on show dates, moving them later in the semester and reducing the number and size of shows.

While smaller shows need less money than more elaborate productions, they'll likely draw smaller audiences as well.

The group also will perform fewer musicals than usual because musicals require twice as many actors as plays, she said. "We usually do a big musical in the fall and that's just not going to happen," Conaway said.

For the Pauper Players, the biggest hardship has been the loss of its storage space, said Adam Kuykendal, head administrator for the group. The group had housed costumes and props in the basement of Cobb Residence Hall for the last 10 years. Building renovations forced them out in May.

"We had to throw away years of sets and costumes," he said. "That was really sad to see go."

Salvaged items went to Company Carolina or were dispersed among the group's members for storage in apartments, closets and car trunks, he said.

The group will depend more on cast members for costumes and use fewer props to maintain its operations. The group's tightened budget might even result in higher ticket prices for students and faculty, Kuykendal said.

"It's not something we want to do now," he said. "It's possible that we'll have to consider that."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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