The Student Learning Centre is one of three options for the theatre schoool’s temporary location.

Photo: Jake Scott

Mixed reaction to delayed theatre plans

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By Keith Capstick

The Ryerson Theatre School (RTS) isn’t going anywhere soon and theatre students have mixed feelings about it.

Gerd Hauck, the dean of Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication and Design, confirmed last week that the school will not be moving its students out of their current building until the end of the 2015/2016 academic year.

“We’re about four, five or six months later than we anticipated,” said Hauck.

Members of the theatre school are excited about staying a little longer, but understand that the poor condition of the building means they’ll need to leave sooner rather than later.

“I like this building a lot. I know there are some maintenance issues and the age of the building is a huge factor in why they’re pushing us out,” said Madeleine Hamilton, a third-year theatre production student. “I love this building, it feels like home.”

The chair of the theatre school, Peggy Shannon, sent an email to members of the theatre school Jan. 16 to inform the students of the delay and the details of the five-tosix year transformation the school is about to undertake.

These details included three potential interim homes for the students while a new permanent building is built or purchased by the school. She also addressed potential student worries.

“Change is important, but it can also be disruptive. Change can produce a level of worry – even anxiety – about the unknown,” Shannon said in the email.

The three possible locations Shannon mentioned for the theatre school’s temporary home are the new Student Learning Centre (SLC), the Bay Atrium and Kerr Hall.

Shannon also said that the possibility of the SLC is dependent on a rezoning of the building by the city. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy is leaning toward one of the first two options, saying that Kerr Hall would require the school to displace too many other students.

According to Levy, the proposed rezoning of the SLC would dedicate more of the ground floor for institutional use and reduce the amount of retail space. The plans for the glass storefront space that faces Yonge Street will have to change to accommodate more institutional space and less privatesector retail space, but it has not been confirmed what the institutional space will be used for.

Administration hasn’t said why the delay is happening.When asked Levy said, “oh, I don’t know.” Hamilton is concerned about a temporary home not being able to handle the space requirements of the theatre school.

“I don’t think you can find a building that houses all of our needs anywhere near campus,” said Hamilton.

Peter Fleming, the theatre school production and operations manager, is very pleased with the delayed timeline because it gives everybody involved more time to make sure they do the best possible job finding a permanent new home.

“I am incredibly happy that we have a bit of breathing room to get things planned,” said Fleming.

“We’ve all breathed a sigh of relief that we’ve pushed it away a bit.” Fourth-year theatre production student Lili Gerard is concerned about the proposed timeline of the school’s move. Theatre students will likely not be in a new permanent building until 2019.

“I think it just sucks for the people coming in because it’s going to take them five years to finish.

I think they should get a new space, renovate it, get it ready, and then move all of us out at once,” Gerard said.

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