Check out the new exhibit, on display in the Tisch Library, highlighting Tufts Theater History, 1910s-1960s. The exhibit includes production photos, scripts, programs, and artifacts, as well as special features on Pen, Paint and Pretzels and on the Arena Theater.
The Tufts Arena Theater building was originally the Jackson College Gymnasium, constructed in 1909. Athletics and dramatics shared the space until 1948, when the Athletics Department vacated the Jackson College Gym upon completion of the Henry Clay Jackson Gymnasium.
The building was given to the Drama Department and became known as the Tufts Arena Theater. A condemned stage forced the department to use an innovative staging format where plays were performed on a raised oval in the middle of the gym floor. This setup was the first appearance of performances “in the round” in New England and was pioneered by Marston Balch, Professor of Dramatics at Tufts for thirty-seven years.
The Tufts Arena Theater was used until 1991, when it was demolished upon completion of the Aidekman Arts Center. Included in the plans for Aidekman was a new space for the Drama Department, the Balch Arena Theater, named for Professor Marston Balch.
For more information on Drama at Tufts, stop by the DCA on the Ground Floor of Tisch library and ask to see some of the great pictures and artifacts we have available. Information is also available on the Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History.
Special thanks to Laura Cutter and Lauren Miller for their work on this exhibit and their contributions to the text of this blog entry.