On Thursday, July 17, more than 150 faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends of Lees-McRae College gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Lauritsen Technical Theatre and Design Studio. The ceremony was followed by a luncheon and building tour. This building will primarily be used to build sets for use in productions by the College’s Performing Arts and the Summer Theatre programs.
“The Lauritsen Technical Theatre and Design Studio is first and foremost a work space,” said President Barry M. Buxton during his remarks at the dedication. “During your tour you will see first-hand the planning, measuring, cutting, sawing, nailing, painting and hard work that will characterize this space. This work is fundamental to performing arts professions, and the more experienced and versed our students are in the art and craft of set design, the better their chances of employment in their chosen field. As all of you know, Performing Arts is a center of excellence at Lees-McRae College and we are so proud of our talented performing arts students and our dedicated faculty and staff!”
The Lauritsen Technical Theatre and Design Studio dedication is the first of three buildings dedications that will be held at the College this year. The two other buildings slated for dedication are the Robb Center for Career Exploration (the newly renovated stone cottage located diagonal from the Chaffee Administration Building) and the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences (the building under construction directly adjacent to the Robb Center).
“All of these facility improvements are related to our efforts to improve the student experience at Lees-McRae,” said President Buxton. “We want do the very best job we can of preparing our students for life after Lees-McRae, whether it is a career in the area of their training or graduate school. These new and renovated structures are part of more than $10 million dollars we have invested in campus infrastructure in the past four years! One of our goals is to be the most beautiful college campus in North Carolina. We hope you are as excited as we are about the revitalization of our campus.”
The College broke ground on the Lauritsen Studio in November 2013 and with construction remaining on schedule, the building was ready for use by the staff of Summer Theatre prior to the dedication.
During his remarks at the dedication, Drew Wallace ’01, assistant technical director, said, “As an alumnus I am grateful to look at this building and know how much it will influence the ability of the [performing arts] department to put up new productions and draw new students. As the Assistant Technical Director I am grateful to know that I will have a much easier time training new students on the proper way to build and construct a flat, paint and built props, and safely operate in a shop environment. Having better trained students helps us put on bigger and better productions, and I can say I’m a little more than tickled to get in here and begin our fall production. The Summer Theatre crew would not have been able to put up these last two excellent shows without the use of this building. Its effect is already being felt! I think I can speak for all of us when I say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’”
Thanks to a very generous lead donation from friends of the College, Kay and Jim Lauritsen, whose name the building bears, this building will be used primarily by the Performing Arts department and Summer Theatre, but will also have secondary uses for the Communication Arts & Design program as well as other majors. It will create opportunities to focus on skills students do not have the opportunity to learn now such as stretching canvas, welding, teaching proper and effective use of power tools, using different mediums on sets, and so much more.
The structure will also provide much needed storage and work space. For this very purpose, the Broyhill Family Foundation provided the lead donation to name the second floor “Doc’s Attic” in honor of faculty emeritus, Dr. Janet Speer, better known as “Doc.” Doc has always had an affinity for props and furnishings, and finding unique and creative ways to use discarded items for production work, which makes this space a perfect way to commemorate her impact on performing arts at Lees-McRae.
For more information about performing arts at Lees-McRae, visit lmc.edu/pa or call 828.898.5241.
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