This is the first time ever in all the years since the opening of the Theater department at Chabot College there’ll be no main stage play because of budget cuts.
The college is working to reduce the deficit. According to Dean of Arts, Media and Communication, Deonne Kunkel “I’m working with Vice President of Business Services, Ron Gerhard, also Vice President, Stacy Thompson. The program reviews were just completed. All the different areas put in their request and we are now in the process of compiling all them. We hope that the request for the main stage support will be prioritized high enough.”
Theater Arts Instructor Dov Hassan explained that the main reason we will go without any main stage plays this semester boils down to a lack of funds for technical staff. Technical staff are all those who work behind the scenes. The people who make the costumes and stage sets, who do the lighting, run the box office, publicity, marketing, and who handle and produce the shows.
“There is so much work to be done that we can’t just do this with students alone. We have a class for technical theater, but it’s so intense to build a set for a show that that’s about all they can get done. It’s such a mad dash to get it all done in time, that there’s not much time left for really teaching the subject matter in depth. And there needs to be staff support to direct things. Theater offers all kind of training for other jobs. It helps students learn to work on complicated tasks.” said Theater Arts instructor Dov Hassan
Instructor Hassan explained that a lot of people get the Performing Arts Center (PAC) staff confused with the theater arts program. According to him, the PAC staff is solely dedicated to running the theater for rental use. “They have staff, but we get zero support from them. We are not related to them. It’s a totally separate program.”
The funding has been decreasing slowly and steadily. The theater never had to rely on outside funding like grants. The funding has always been inside the college district budget. The theater program sells a lot of tickets for their shows.
“If we don’t get a certain amount of funding from the district, in addition to not putting on a main stage play we will no longer be able to attend The American College Theater Festival, that we have attended every year. nonetheless, theater arts continues to thrive with tremendous student energy and commitment to new original plays. We need to hire professional people for the whole year, and we don’t have the money for that” says professor Rachel Lepell.
The Deficit is not only affecting the Theater Arts but the whole campus. It’s affecting the theater, music, science, digital media, math, and English department. Every department doesn’t have as much funding for supplies as they did before. The new plan under our new Vice President of Business Services, Ron Gerhard is that the Theater Arts has to rent out Chabot College facilities. Renting out the Facilities also means that the Television station Mass Communications class might have to pay for each student to use Chabot College facilities. When asked about the Theater arts and MCOM classes renting out the facilities Dr. Stacy Thompson was uncertain about it.
The instructors who direct the main stage plays are Joel Mullennix, Margo Hall, and Dov Hassan. Every semester they rotate who’s directing the class and the play. Next semester there’s going to be the main stage play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare and Professor Mullennix is going to direct it.
Since there’s not going to be a main stage play this semester, emerging works is going to be more ambitious. With six plays, there’s going to be more students in the class that are going to be performing. Emerging works are student’s plays that ran earlier in December.
Vice President of Academic Services Dr. Stacy Thompson added “We had a deficit we’re trying to work out so now the hope is we will be able to fund the performances, and the supplies you need for performances. A proposal was submitted through the program review process we’re hopeful that we are going to have a main stage play next year, and by the end of this fiscal year things would’ve settled down and be put into place. The program will survive, and it will flourish.”