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Bear River Theater revisited for renovation during school closure

To better equip theater students at Bear River, Theater Manager Erin Beatie has taken the time to improve many aspects of the theater. Courtesy Photo

With Bear River students away from campus, Theater Manager Erin Beatie has taken advantage of the empty halls to invest in a theater improvement — a welcome change once school begins once again.

Mrs. Beatie elaborated upon what needed to be improved in order to “support all kinds of live and online events.”

“I am systematically going through every inch of the space,” she said. “Finding better organization solutions for equipment, testing [and/or] fixing every cable we own, re-wiring the sound system, creating a high functioning repertory lighting plot, fixing, re-wiring, and re-designing the video suite – That hasn’t worked since well before I was hired – inspecting all rigging elements, replacing broken materials, replacing old curtains, and doing a full safety inspection of the space.”

As this project started soon after distance learning was introduced, the job is currently receiving its finishing touches.

“I still have to finish the dressing room, but that was placed on hold since I recently received approval to open as a sound stage (filming stage) until we are able to hold live audiences again,” said Mrs. Beatie. “I have shifted my focus to adjusting lighting and sound to be able to accommodate well for film. This way we can still have performances and events within the space that meets all CDC guidelines. It is certainly a huge learning curve for me since my specialty is live performances rather than recorded/edited on film. A huge thank you to Mrs. Levinson [for] allowing me to borrow the video equipment in order to test out the new setups!”

Some students, such as rising Seniors Andrew Jeffers and Suzana Louden, were informed about the theater’s impending renovation.

“I [knew] the theater was getting an overhaul when the distance learning thing started,” said Jeffers.

Fellow rising Senior Amber Bell knew little to nothing about the theater’s makeover, and was pleasantly surprised to find out about the complete overhaul.

“I knew that we were getting new curtains but that’s about it,” said Bell.

Mrs. Beatie gave some insight into her reasoning behind redoing the theater. 

“Due to the school closure and inability to hold public events, I have taken the opportunity to make every improvement I can possibly think of,” she said. “So that, when students return, they have a high functioning space that can support more opportunities than ever before!”

While the improvements made are welcomed by all students, Senior Cadyn Wilson and Jeffers had similar sentiments of content towards the state of the theater before the overhaul. 

“I thought it was nice before,” said Wilson.

Louden had different opinions.

“I do think the theater was in need of getting fixed,” she said.

Students had provided different ideas about what they would like to see — new or fixed — in their overhauled theater.

“I’d like to see the floor of the theater fixed,” said Louden. “Some spots are scratched up.”

“I think it would be cool if the stage was repainted,” Wilson said.

Bell was nostalgic in her response.

“I’d like to see it, period,” she said. “I miss being there.”

Mrs. Beatie expressed the underlying motivation behind the theater improvements.

“As the Theater Manager, even though the facility I serve is not able to provide public entertainment at this time, I have a responsibility,” she said. “My responsibility is to my producers, directors, designers, performers, technicians, and audience members to ensure that when they are able to return, we are ready!”


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Bear River Theater revisited for renovation during school closure