The show must go on as Alliance closes for renewals

Anya Lomsadze, Managing Editor of News

By Anya Lomsadze

The Alliance Theater at the Woodruff Arts Center will draw the curtains for its upcoming 2017-2018 season because of renovations and technical updates. However, the show will go on since the Alliance’s performances during that time will be held at various theaters around Atlanta.

“I was surprised that anything was going to change at the theater,” Walden Jones, a Grady junior, said. “I thought the theater was great as it is.”

The Alliance Theater is part of the larger complex of the Woodruff Arts Center, consisting of one major stage, one smaller stage called the Hertz Stage, and several theater production and rehearsal facilities throughout the building.

“[The renovations] are about the two most important groups of people of any theater, the audience and the artists,” Celise Kalke, the Alliance’s Director of New Projects, said. “We’re improving the working conditions and physical space of the artists and the space for the audience. It’s not fixing. It’s greatly improving.”

The most dramatic changes will be found on the main Alliance stage, geared towards improving the viewing experience of the audience. One of the ways the Alliance will do this is by ensuring good sound quality, regardless of the type of acoustics each performance provides.

“The theater was built, in terms of acoustics, for very large scale musical performances, which is not that great for straight plays,” Kalke said. “No one would ever know that because we have so many wonderful solutions for overcoming the acoustical issues in the space. One of the things we’re doing is cutting edge acoustical renovation.”

In addition to updating the stage technology, the Alliance is also adjusting the space of the theater for a more communal audience experience. Currently, the physical configuration of the main stage is a bit limiting. Once in the theater, patrons are not able to access other floors without exiting the theater and using distant stairs.

“The new theater is going to have two staircases on either side so it feels like everyone is in the same place, watching the same show,” Kalke said. “The new configuration of the Alliance will be more personal, with greater awareness of audience members of other audience members.”

Additionally, wheelchair-accessible seating will be expanded, including to the center of the house with much better proximity to the stage.

The working experience of actors, stage crew, and other theater employees will be greatly affected by the renovations. New rehearsal halls, dressing rooms and green room spaces, many of which are currently strewn throughout the arts center, will be created and relocated. Additionally, the costume shop will be moved from the basement to the fourth floor.

“Our costume shop has fantastic artisans, but they are doing really detailed craftwork without the benefit of natural light,” Kalke said. “The new costume shop, on the top floor, will greatly minimize the time it takes for actors to go from the rehearsal halls to work with costume.”

While the Alliance revamps, its shows will be available all around the city, with 12 shows in 12 different locations over the next year.

“With this tour of Atlanta we’re doing, we hope that Atlanta will take pride in theater,” Kalke said. “We’d like to think of the time of going to theater as way of different parts of Atlanta coming together.”