Gish Theater Curator - Left out of the loop

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 Thank you a lot Cassidy Manninen:
 Confusion and miscommunication have plagued the renovations of Hanna Hall and the relocation of the Gish Film Theater.
As part of the University’s plans to update the interiors of its “traditions” buildings, Hanna Hall is scheduled to receive interior remodels, possible additions to the structure and the relocation of the College of Business into the building.
Ralphe Wolfe, the curator at the Gish, said he was left out of the loop when the decision was made to renovate Hanna Hall.
Wolfe spoke with Mazey in September 2015 and told her he had no idea the renovation was occurring. He said Mazey told him he was “out of town” at the time.
“I thought, ‘I do have a cell phone and an email address’…so it was kind of sprung upon me,” Wolfe said.
He was originally under the impression that the theater would be worked around as the rest of Hanna Hall was prepared for the College of Business. He said the original plan was for the College of Business to have a new building, but President Mazey was unable to raise funding.
Named for the sisters Lillian and Dorothy Gish, renowned actresses who began their careers during the era of silent film, the Gish Film Theater was opened for film instruction in 1975.
“(The Gish) has been the center for all of film culture since the 1970s,” said Cynthia Baron, a professor in the theater and film department.
The sisters were originally from Ohio and began their acting career in Rising Sun, Ohio in Wood County. Wolfe himself worked with Lillian to garner her support for her and her sister’s namesake.
“I realized…she’s an Ohio native and she began her career in Rising Sun…so I thought this (was) a great historical connection,” Wolfe said.
Currently, the construction plans are to relocate the Gish to the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, to a theater on the second floor.
“The board in the February (2017) meeting will be considering a renovation and an addition to Hanna Hall…but it will require the relocation of the Gish Theater,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Rodney Rogers.
Rogers said the traditions buildings have never had a full-scale renovation such as they are receiving now, and were long due for the attention.
“As we’ve looked around at various choices, it seemed like putting (the Gish) in the Union made a great deal of sense because we have the outline of a theater now,” said Rogers.
However, this has raised concerns among the theater and film department, especially for Wolfe and Baron.
“(The Union theater) is used for a whole range of other events…things that are connected to what’s happening in the ballroom,” said Baron. “I’m not seeing how this is going to work out very well.”
Baron also said it is one of the few remaining locations with a single screen that is necessary for screening films.
The theater in the Union, she said, is “radically” different from the Gish, in regards to their physical layout.
Wolfe expressed concern at the handicapped accessibility and whether or not there would be room for the organ and piano used to accompany the silent film screenings.
Rogers admitted some renovations to the Union theater would need to be done to accommodate both the new and old technology used to screen current and silent films.
“I might believe that having it in the Union, it’ll be higher profile because a lot more people come to the Union…than, perhaps, Hanna Hall,” Rogers said.
Despite understanding the need for the updates in Hanna Hall, Baron still expressed concerns that the students in the film and theater department, specifically the student filmmakers, were not being considered.I do know that the students are extremely distressed,” said Baron. “They feel like their home is being taken away from them.
Wolfe said the Union theater also does not have the historical significance of the Gish, as Lillian Gish had visited when the theater was first dedicated to her.
The theater in Hanna Hall is home to a museum of sorts that showcases pictures, objects and movie posters associated with the Gish sisters and their film careers.
Rogers said some of the museum would certainly be on display in the Union, but the rest of it would be in the archives in the Jerome Library as well as in the Brown Pop Culture Library.
The individual seats in the Gish were also dedicated to donors who helped fund the Gish, some with well-known names like Sally Fields and Tom Hanks.
Baron said she thought the donors who helped fund the theater would be particularly upset by the relocation, but the “University (did) not want those people contacted.”
While the Gish would be converted for the College of Business, Rogers said he hoped the new “location might bring (more) notoriety.”
But this has not put Baron’s or Wolfe’s minds to rest.
We are not consulted,” said Baron.
“(Mazey) wanted to have a campaign to raise money for a new building, she didn’t get it,” said Wolfe. “And so, her failure trumps my success in here.”


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