A Laboratory for Theatre, Dance, and Music.
A Laboratory for Theatre, Dance, and Music.


Reed celebrates the performing arts with a new building and a new home.

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | December 1, 2013

 The performing arts got an 80,000-​square-foot, glass-paned, light-filled new home in September, amid pomp, circumstance, shiny red ribbons, and several gargantuan pairs of scissors.

The ceremony began with Blast!, a fanfare for two trumpets and live electronics, composed by R.P. Wollenberg Professor of Music David Schiff [1980–] and Bruce Bennett ’90. Standing on the grand staircase that graces the atrium, President John R. Kroger welcomed students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, giving thanks to the many people who ushered the building into reality. “In my opinion, there is nothing more practical, and nothing that this country is more in need of, than creativity,” Kroger said. “But even if the performing arts had no practical value, we’d still build this building—because life without art is not worth living.”

Kroger’s predecessor, Colin Diver [president 2002–12], remarked on the challenges of planning, designing, and paying for the new building during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and called the birth of the edifice “an extraordinary act of creativity.”

“You will know it as the Performing Arts Building,” he said. “I will always think of it as the Miracle Building.”

Part of that miracle was that donors, led by the board of trustees and the Parent Council, contributed $14 million—half the building’s total cost. Former Parent Council chair Joe Sellers led the charge to raise over $2 million from Reed parents to name the studio theatre in honor of Colin and his wife, Joan. The PAB also attracted almost $1 million from local foundations, notably the Collins Foundation. Trustee Rick Wollenberg ’75, a lead donor to the building, joined Colin, Prof. Kathleen Worley [theatre 1985–], and Towny Angell, director of facilities operations, in the ribbon cutting to represent all the donors who made this long-standing dream a reality. The remarks included a special on-screen appearance by Reed parent and donor John Malkovich, who beamed in from Paris to convey his congratulations. The celebration continued on the grand staircase that inspired the site-specific work 
L’esprit de l’escalier, choreographed by Heidi Duckler ’74 and performed by her troupe, which includes Claire Thomforde-Garner ’12 and Simone Wood ’13.

The Diver Theatre was rung in by a reading of the musical Golden Motors, orchestrated by Broadway director Johanna McKeon ’92. The celebration also featured chamber music by Reed musicians and readings of work by playwrights Lee Blessing ’71, Bret Fetzer ’87, Anne Washburn ’91, Robert Quillen Camp ’99, Tina Satter ’04, Kate Tarker ’08, and Dominic Finocchiaro ’11.

Tags: Performing Arts, Institutional, Giving Back to Reed