• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 22 comments on University to Sell BU Theatre

    1. Not really when it comes to SoT’s design students. Prime example in the shooting that happened last week across the street from the theater BU alert saw no reason to y’know… let anyone in the building know. We had to fight to get the BU bus to stop there, we had to fight to get it to run later because of the hours we spent at the theater. And now BU Today breaks this before the faculty can tell the students?

      Also, when I was a student there I had absolutely no wish to spend more time with school of music and school of visual art students outside of any classes we might have together. What really helps your career, what is a large part of choosing BU over other schools is that your in residence with a Tony Award winning theatre company.

      This article also doesn’t talk about what’s being built in its place. Do the students get a large proscenium to take the place of the BUT’s so they can understand how to design on that scale? Are they prepared to buy a whole new inventory for every department, as most of ours is shared/merged with the Huntington’s? Will faculty and students be involved in the decisions of what gets bought for the theaters?

      No one can claim this is what’s best for the students. This is a decision motivated purely by monetary choices.

  1. “While our partnership with the Huntington Theatre Company has certainly enriched the Boston arts scene for many years, our first responsibility—by far our most important responsibility—is to our students,”

    I’m having a very hard time understanding the mental gymnastics that went into the decision that this is somehow best for the students. Sharing a space with an active, respected, professional theatre company is one of the greatest assets that the Design and Production department has as an educational tool for its students.

    This article also glosses over a few big questions. “Where is D&P going to go?” “What is going to happen to the over half of SOT’s productions, which happen in those buildings?” No one can deny that BU has a top-notch faculty, which is a big part of what makes BU such a great theatre school, but you simply cannot take away all of BU’s quality theatre spaces and expect a top-notch faculty to fill in the space left by having no facilities to properly educate in.

    The CFA building has some spaces, yes, but it’s largest space seats 100 people and is full of obsolete, dying equipment. I am sure that everybody realizes this, and I sincerely hope that this article is missing a lot of what BU plans to do with losing these facilities, but I don’t understand how anyone can look at this decision and claim with a straight face that it is “best for the students.”

    1. These were my questions exactly. What is the mainstage facility that will replace the BUT? The Calderwood, which we sometimes use, is even further away from the Charles River campus, which makes me believe that that is not the long-term solution.
      I have nothing but love and respect for the CFA, and I believe they do have the students’ best interests at heart. And it’s true that large facilities don’t always equal better education. However, I would like some more information on the long-term plan and hope that this sale doesn’t mean fewer production opportunities for students.

    2. I agree with you Jackson. This move makes absolutely no sense for the betterment of the students in a technical sense, however if you look at the long term trajectory of where Design and Production has been headed, there has been a severe lack of emphasis or interest in developing the technical side of the work, and a strong focus on a “collaborative design environment”. This is yet another step in the demise of BU D&P as a technical powerhouse and its fade into liberal art theatre school mediocracy. They will continue to turn out students who will expect to walk into design gigs that include a full technical staff to support them and artistic directors who find “magic money” beyond the budget to do whatever they want to do.

      I want so badly for them to have a plan that includes new and improved facilities, to convince me, and judging from Facebook many of the alumni, that they’re not abandoning the technical theatre program, and I hope that they do. I think it will be interesting to see they quantity and quality of students who choose to enter as freshman next year with the prospect of their largest venue a 100 seat decrepit blackbox thrust.

      On the other hand I think that this will be an excellent opportunity for the Huntington, anyone who buys the theatre won’t leave it in the state that BU has let it get to, and hopefully will put the funds in to restore it to its previous grandeur.

      All of that being said, it’s a sad day in the history of the BU theatre, maybe we should all get together on the last day and say goodnight to Girlfriend one last time.

    3. More details will be forthcoming as to the plans on the Charles River Campus to accommodate Design and Production programs and black box performance space. The student experience is the top priority, and this decision moves us closer to bringing the theatre program and theatre students together on one campus. The proximity will increase synergies between the performance and D&P programs which haven’t been fully realized due to distance. With this decision comes much opportunity for the programs and the students.

    4. The plan is to build a new theatre space across the street from the CFA. BU owns that entire block. My concern is that it won’t be done within one year and the students will suffer in the interim.

  2. I am also troubled by the lack of information about better fulfilling the educational needs of SOT students. The largely inadequate and poorly maintained space that is CFA can not fill that void, and while there are many great faculty members heavily involved and employed at New Rep in Watertown, its location is hugely problematic for students (there isn’t even a T bus route from the CFA).
    I hope there will be encouraging news; this sale seems premature.

  3. Coming Soon! The Northeastern University Theater! It would make geographic sense and by hosting the Huntington it would bolster Northeastern’s presence in the arts. The other two buildings could be demolished for additional Northeastern housing and academic buildings.

    1. It would make geographic sense, and since Northeastern is really nothing but a real estate developer, I have no doubt they will seize the opportunity to scoop up the theatre and build more terrible pre-cast student housing around it.

  4. I must say that I am not too disappointed. The last few productions there have not been all that I would have hoped for. Maybe they may produce better shows.

  5. I am heart-broken! As a long-time patron from the days when it was the Hartman Theatre group that produced plays there to the current Huntington Theatre group, I have loved the intimacy of the theatre building and marveled at the behind scenes juggling that goes on between the repertory company and the BU student productions. What a rich collaboration from which students benefitted. I bemoan the loss of that interaction as well as the loss of such a rich cultural offering in the environment of Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, and even the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. Short-sightedness destroyed the old Boston Opera House years ago to be replaced, by of all things, by dormitories for Northeastern University! I fear the same will happen here! I am a BU alum with BFA 1964 and MFA 1965 and additional majors under the MFA in 1975 (CFA) and ’79 and am ashamed of this decision.

  6. I am heart-broken! As a long-time patron first of the Hartmann Theatre and now of the Huntington Theatre I value the intimacy of the theatre building, its offerings, and the opportunity it gives the BU students to work alongside professionals in the industry. That collaboration is invaluable! I always marveled at that behind scenes interaction! I fear that the short-sightedness of this decision will diminish greatly the rich cultural offerings in the neighborhood provided by Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, and even the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. Years ago, that same short-sightedness saw the Boston Opera House demolished with Northeastern dormitories taking its place. Will this same fate befall the BU Theatre – a decision that we will come to regret similarly? As a BU alum from CFA with a BFA in 1964, an MFA in 1965, a second major under my MFA a few years later and a CDT in 1979 from GSDM, I am ashamed, disappointed, dismayed, and generally VERY unhappy about this decision!

  7. This is so upsetting. The message is embarrassing and transparent, BU; on what planet would this move be characterized as the “best way to serve” the students? The best way to serve BU’s already thick wallet. Good luck getting students to apply to the theater program until the supposed CRC facilities are developed. Best wishes to the Huntington Theatre Company! May you not have to perform in a Northeastern dorm room.

  8. How “best to serve the students” by moving to an imaginary theatre space with imaginary support facilities.
    You have my imaginary support for this decision.

  9. All that history will just disappear. Change for the sake of change…not always the best decisions and usually made by outsiders; in other words, the people in the trenches never get a say. Walked those boards many times as an alumnus, SFAA 1960 – only the memories remain and what memories!

  10. Change…often made by outsiders; in other words, the people in the trenches never get a say. As an SFAA 1960 alumnus walked those boards many times. Only the memories remain and what memories!

  11. Wow. This is huge and I feel very sad for the students loosing such a marvelous connection to the proximity to something other than the BU campus. The only thing that made me happy, personally and selfishly, is that it will be easier for me to attend BU plays, it was too difficult for me to get to the Huntington and I haven’t been in a long long time. But that truly is a selfish concern and i’m a bit ashamed to admit it. The big picture is for the students and upon my initial read, it felt like a punch in the solar plexus. I truly hope something good comes of it for the students and staff. Sorry folks, my heart goes out to you.

  12. As someone who for the past decade has studied America’s various theater programs great and small, I am sad that this move relegates Boston University’s fine drama program to the small. When I’m working with parents and students interested in acting degrees (if they’re interested in MT, then of course they hope for BoCo), I fear there will be nothing in this announcement that will not raise alarums in the minds of those high-school thespians graduating in 2016, 2017 and 2018 at the thought of attending what is, really, the mainstage-less institution that BU is becoming…especially when so many college theater programs across the nation are expanding in the hope of being able to compete with their fellow BFA/BA theater programs, which are also expanding. What a tragic mistake.

  13. So, in effect, BU is dropping the permanent large proscenium stage and is going to lease stages “around Boston” for productions? And the theater students will be paying $30,000 a year for the privilege of NOT having a home theater that partners with a professional theater group? And this will “solidify and energize” the theater school and help it partner with the other Fine Arts programs? Are you out of your minds? Trying to discreetly dump the theater program? So many words, so empty of value. If y’all buy this one, I got a bridge I wanna sell ya, cheap!

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