Summer is always the time at Ozarks when things get fixed and painted and polished up for the new school year, and the U of O campus will see a number of improvements in coming months.
For one thing, the Walton Fine Arts Center will receive upgrades in its equipment and work space.
Walton Professor of Theatre Bruce Brown describes some of the anticipated changes. "Seay Theater will receive an overall major upgrade, including extensive all new lighting systems," Brown said, "as well as a completely revamped fly system --- that’s the cables, ropes, and clips used during shows. Plus the Black Box is getting a new dimming and control system. Also, we’ll have a new performance lab for acting and directing courses complete with smart classroom accessories, such as a projection screen and projector, in-ceiling sound and a laptop."
Brown said the upgrades will make a huge difference. "We have been operating with 1987 equipment," he said. "The lighting system was analog and now is going to be digital, so we can actually use our digital board as part of an integrated system. Lighting is the part of the technology of theatre that changes the fastest, so with all the new lighting equipment, we’ll be top of the game."
Up until now there hasn’t been a classroom specifically for theatre, Brown said, and he looks forward to using the space. "Previously I have had a design classroom and the stages for rehearsals and that’s it," he said.
Brown and his students will put all that new equipment to use immediately. "We are doing one production and one showcase next semester," he said. "The production is ‘God of Carnage,’ for Family Weekend, which we will then take on the road to the American College Theatre Festival in Arkadelphia. We’re bringing in a very large freshman class this year, so there’ll be a big acting class, and the students in the directing class will be directing scenes, so we’ll just combine those into a showcase in December - one afternoon only, free tickets, in the Black Box Theatre."
Additionally, Ozarks Business Manager Darrell W. Williams said that the parking lot at the north end of campus, adjoining Buchanan Street on the north, Johnson Street on the west and College Avenue on the east, will be resurfaced and restriped between the end of July and August 14, when school begins.
"We have added several new handicap parking spaces," Williams said, "and the way we’ve got it laid out, we’re actually going to gain some parking spaces over what was there previously."
Williams said the redone parking lot would mesh well with the upcoming state highway pedestrian safety improvement project, which will involve a series of pedestrian safety zones on College Avenue.