Erica Starr Theatre undergoing repairs after Harvey

Hurricane Harvey is a thing of the past, but the catastrophic storm has left its imprint on the Sam Houston State University theatre department.

Due to the storm and the flooding that followed, the University Theatre Center suffered water damage in various locations throughout the structure. However, most of the damage was located in and around the Erica Starr Theatre, a situation that has resulted in the temporary closure of the entire building.

“I am confident that portions of the building will reopen soon,” Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication Dr. Ronald Shields said. “I also know that only a few more days are needed until we have a clearer picture about how long it will take to repair the areas that suffered the most damage.”

Repairs to the Erica Starr Theatre’s ceiling and production areas are necessary in order to reopen the building. In the meantime, classes have been rescheduled to rooms opened by the Department of Dance and faculty and staff offices have been moved to other locations across the college.

The Departmental Office for Theatre and Musical Theatre is now working out of the college office in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. A temporary “scene shop” has also been established in shared spaced provided by the College of Science and Engineering Technology.

“I know that the University Administration has committed the resources necessary to get the space repaired and open to serve students as soon as possible this semester,” Shields said. “I have been inspired at how faculty and staff, within the college and across the university, have ‘stepped up to the challenge’ and have taken decisive action to access the damage and do what needs to be done, in a timely manner, to get the facility back in shape.”

SHSU’s production season has not been announced yet due to the closure of the University Theatre Center. The productions “Silent Sky” and “The Government Inspector” were both effected by the damage, pushing rehearsals and performances back.

“We’ve already started talking about shifting the production dates,” facility manager of the Performing Arts Center and theatre technical director Craig Bossman said. “And the marketing director for the college will be issuing those new dates as soon as we can confirm them.”

A large work crew is working seven days a week to complete the needed repairs to the University Theatre Center, the building that houses the Erica Starr Theatre as well as the Showcase Theatre, faculty and staff offices, the department office and classrooms and production work spaces. The repairs are expected to be finished before the end of the fall semester.

“I have a couple of classes myself in the Erica Starr Theatre,” senior Musical Theatre major Nathaniel Meister said. “It’s definitely affected a lot of Fine Arts majors, but we are lucky enough to have multiple kind professors willing to lend us their dance rooms, classrooms, etc.”

Updated information about the production season is scheduled to be released by the Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre by the end of the week through press releases, social media and on the Department and College web pages.

“I am pleased to note that (as of today) I anticipate that the Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre will be able to produce all of the shows previously announced for our 2017-2018 season,” Shields said. “Alterations to the season may include shifts in dates and, perhaps, a different location for one or two productions.”

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