Simultaneous feelings of sadness and joy soared through the University Theatre as the curtains closed after the final performance of "Waiting for Godot" Saturday.\nThe lights will be dimmed and the doors will be closed until the theater's renovation, which will occur in the next few years. The fate of the room that has served as the University Theatre is uncertain, but it might reopen as a lecture hall.\nMany actors and staff are sad to see the University Theatre close, but their sadness is partly replaced by the excitement over the opening of two new theaters, which will be the new theater and drama center for campus. The grand opening will be Jan. 18, 2002. The new building will include larger, more advanced facilities to present more professional performances.\nFor the past 60 years, the University Theatre has served as a learning environment for everyone in the theater department. More than 350 productions have been staged in the University Theatre.\nProfessor Emeritus Keith Michael, who was chairman of the theater department for 25 years, recalled a Student Advisory Committee meeting where it was suggested that curtains be placed over the Thomas Hart Benton murals that hang on either side of the stage. He was told that the murals distracted the audience from the performers. Michael still remembers his response.\n"If they kept looking at the murals, then we needed better productions," Michael said.\nThe murals were still uncovered during the final performance of "Godot."\nGeorge Sullivan, director of audience development for the theater department, participated in some University Theatre productions. \n"The significance of the theater cannot be overstated," Sullivan said. "Theater is live, and theater is more capable than film or television in certain, most indescribable ways in portraying human nature, mainly because of its live aspects and limitations."\nSullivan also referred to the farewell of the University Theatre as a "passing of goodbye." \n"You're sad over it, but then you reflect on the glory of its career," Sullivan said.\nJunior Jenny Bulla has been in three University Theatre productions, including a role as the Boy in "Godot." Bulla said the University Theatre will be greatly missed.\n"I just think with all of the human relationships being established and memories created here, there is a personal history with friendships that will live on for years." \nA ceremony after the final performance recognized the thousands of performers and affiliates that have been involved with the theater in its career. After a toast, those gathered saluted the opening of the new theater and drama center.\nGraduate student Geoff Wilson also acted in the University Theatre's final production as Estragon in "Waiting for Godot." Wilson has been involved with the theater for two and a half years. \n"I think its a place where the fabric of society has been explored, dreams have been realized and where a great number of people have had truthful encounters with the human soul," Wilson said.\n"It is having a rebirth in the new theater"
Get stories like this in your inboxSubscribe