Kent State Dedicates New
EZ Black Box Theatre
The School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University dedicated its new black box theatre to Louis O. Erdmann and William H. Zucchero — two celebrated emeriti faculty. The two had a direct impact on the growth and expansion of the School of Theatre and Dance over a nearly 30-year period, from the early ’60s through the mid ’80s.
The Louis O. Erdmann and William H. Zucchero Black Box Theatre, referred to as the EZ Theatre, is part of the new Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance. A dedication ceremony took place on Friday, April 8, at 7:15 p.m. in the Roe Green Center lobby, just outside the theatre entrance. Following the ceremony, a combined performance of the annual Student Theatre Festival and a specially produced tribute to “Lou and Bill” took place in the new space. The tribute was under the direction of Lou’s son, Karl Erdmann, who also currently serves as the production supervisor for the School of Theatre and Dance and Porthouse Theatre.
During their tenure, Erdmann and Zucchero built a theatre program to nurture and develop students. The dynamic duo began the Kent State program’s long and rich tradition of success. The two co-founded the popular Porthouse Theatre, which this year celebrates its 43rd season on the grounds of Blossom Music Center. Each in their own right — Erdmann on the instruction of lighting and scenic and technical designs and Zucchero on the instruction of play writing, directing and performance — combined to make momentous headway for the School of Theatre and Dance. Starting with a department offering only a B.A., they built the program into a dynamic, highly regarded School of Theatre offering four degrees — B.A., B.F.A, M.A. and Ph.D. (Dance wasn’t added to the name until the mid-’90s.)
The EZ Black Box Theatre is the centerpiece of the new Roe Green Center facility. The theatre will serve a multitude of needs, including a performance space dedicated to student creative projects, such as student-directed plays and choreographed dance concerts, as well as culminating experiences, such as senior projects and musical theatre and M.F.A showcases. Serving as a primary classroom, the EZ Theatre will be used to present students’ directing and playwriting projects.
When plans for the Roe Green Center were being designed and the creation of a new black box theatre was realized, it made sense that the school would begin a campaign to name the theatre for the two who had made such monumental changes to the school. The campaign quickly gained momentum when alumnus and Emmy award-winner Jeff Richmond, music supervisor/producer of “30 Rock” from NBC Universal, and alumna and Tony Award-winner Alice Ripley, star of the Broadway hit “Next to Normal,” joined as co-chairpersons. Both had their lives touched by Erdmann and Zucchero. To date, the “Continue the Legacy” EZ Theatre Black Box Campaign has raised just a little over $200,000 for the naming rights of the theatre. In its final phase, the School of Theatre and Dance is still looking to raise the remaining $47,000 needed to close the campaign. Any alumni or community members wishing to donate to the EZ Theatre Campaign can visit www.theatre.kent.edu for more information or call the College of the Arts office at 330-672-2760 to donate over the phone.
“When I started my college career, it was a very exciting time at the Kent State Department of Theatre,” Richmond said. “I was a freshman saxophone major at the time, and it only took a matter of days and a couple of music history classes to realize the coolest folks were down the hall. And the coolest of the cool were the two gentlemen that ran that institution and ushered in all those achievements, Lou Erdmann and Bill Zucchero.”
For further information on Kent State’s School of Theatre and Dance, call 330-672-2082 or visit www.theatre.kent.edu.