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Theatre Arts Facilities at Catawba College

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This structure is a unique and highly-used facility for both the College and the Salisbury-Rowan County community and was named in 1987 in honor of Blanche S. and Julian H. Robertson of Salisbury, long-time supporters of the College, its programs and activities, and in recognition of the Robertson family's generous support of Catawba. The Center contains the 1450-seat Keppel Auditorium; the 240-seat Hedrick Little Theater; the Peeler Crystal Lounge, a spacious glass-walled room for seminars, banquets, conferences, and dances; and the Brady Courtyard, an area between the Peeler Crystal Lounge and Hedrick Little Theatre used for receptions and various types of socials.

The Center is also home for the Adrian L. and Dorothy L. Shuford, Jr. School of Performing Arts. Designed as a facility for the display of performing arts, the Center contains a common stage area for the main auditorium and little theatre. This feature allows wide flexibility in staging various events. There is an extensive rigging and fly-storage area backstage along with facilities for scenery preparation and costume design and production.

The Center was built in 1964 with contributions from the citizens of the Salisbury and Rowan County community. The auditorium is named in memory of Dr. A.R. Keppel, fourteenth president of Catawba College (1942- 63); the little theatre is named in memory of Mr. and Mrs. B.V. Hedrick of Salisbury, benefactors of the College; the Crystal Lounge is named in honor of the late Mr. Clifford A. Peeler of Salisbury, trustee emeritus of the College, and the courtyard is named in honor of the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Brady of Salisbury, N.C. Mr. Brady was a member of the Class of 1930. The School of Performing Arts is named in honor of Adrian L. and Dorothy L. Shuford, Jr. of Conover, N.C. The late Mr. Shuford was a trustee emeritus and served as chairman of the Board of Trustees 1951-77; Mrs. Shuford is a professional concert pianist and serves as an adjunct member of the Department of Music faculty.

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Located in the College-Community Center, Keppel Auditorium, named after Dr.A. R. Keppel, the 14th president of Catawba College, is a 1500-seat proscenium theatre with an orchestra, mezzanine, loge, and balcony. Special features include a removable orchestra pit and removable floor traps. The auditorium is also equipped with a single purchase fly system with 31 battens.

The lighting system is comprised of a computerized control console, 112 dimmers, over two hundred lighting instruments, and ten hanging positions. Sound reinforcement utilizes a 36 channel modern mixing console, equalization equipment for each of the multiple speaker outputs, a complete patch bay, and an array of accessory equipment. Students are provided many opportunities to work with the equipment in real production situations.

The proscenium arch is 48'-6" wide and 26' feet tall. In addition to being used for mainstage productions and dance concerts, Keppel Auditorium is regularly rented out to local groups and touring companies. Often, Catawba students are given the opportunity to work with these groups in a house crew capacity.

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Also located in the College-Community Center, Hedrick Little Theatre, named after Mr. and Mrs. Burl Vance Hedrick, is a 250 seat modified thrust theatre. Many of Catawba's mainstage productions are held here, giving students the opportunity to work in this unconventional space. Hedrick Theatre provides a challenge for directors, designers, actors. and crews.

The Hedrick stage has been used for many diverse styles of performance. The American College Theatre Festival for North Carolina has called Hedrick home for eight years. Hedrick is well equipped with modern computerized lighting controls, sound reinforcement, recording, and play back systems. The stage is flexible in its configuration through the use of a removable forestage. The back wall of the space connects to the stage left wing of Keppel Auditorium and contains a small fly system with five line sets.

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The Florence Busby Corriher Theatre, a 100 seat black box performance space, is located in the lush greenery immediately behind the College-Community Center. The performance space in this new facility (dedicated in the fall, 2001) can be arranged so as to accommodate any production style - thrust, arena, environmental, etc. Mainstage as well as second-stage productions are presented in this space. Performances currently include yearly faculty directed productions, student directed full-length productions, the student directed one-act festival, a student directed/written/acted ten-minute play festival, traveling productions, appearances by guest artists, student works-in-progress, as well as departmental forums, critiques, and practica. Classes may also be taught there. This facility is named in honor of the late Florence Busby Corriher. Professor Corriher began the tradition of theatre at Catawba College in 1925 when she founded the Blue Masque, the first club on campus.

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Catawba's elegant Peeler Crystal Lounge is named in honor of the late Mr. Clifford A. Peeler and is a spacious glass-walled room used for seminars, banquets, conferences, dances, and theatre productions. Often rented as a ballroom for wedding receptions or private parties, it is also used as a site for concerts and cabaret shows.

When Peeler Crystal Lounge is used as an alternative space for theatre productions it is usually as dinner or coffee theatre. The Blue Masque often hosts the annual award banquet in Crystal Lounge.

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Most design classes use the Art Studio, Graphic Design Studio, and the Media Presentation Classroom located on the third floor of the Hedrick Administration Building. These classrooms are equipped with wet and dry media work areas, drafting/drawing tables, graphic presentation areas, and basic graphic presentation equipment.


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