Double in Size Means More Dramatic Offerings for Rhodes’ McCoy Theatre

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Publication Date: 8/25/2006


McCoy Theatre

The McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College has enriched both the campus and the broader Memphis community since 1982. Now, the facility has more than doubled in size from approximately 8,400 square feet to over 17,000 square feet, affording it opportunities to present even more dramatic offerings and to advance undergraduate teaching and learning. Construction began in August 2005, and McCoy Theatre season subscribers and the Rhodes College community will celebrate the dedication of the project on September 7 at a reception hosted by Rhodes President and Mrs. William E. Troutt.

Originally converted from a Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house, the intimate McCoy Theatre was named in honor of the late Harry McCoy, a Memphis real estate developer who died in 1966. The Harry B. McCoy Foundation funded the original renovations as well as the current addition, and has also provided annual support for the McCoy Visiting Artist series, enhancing work in the areas of theatre and music by bringing professionals in the field to share their artistry on the Rhodes campus.

The scope of the McCoy Theatre expansion was completed with a final cost of $2.6 million. The national design firm of Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company (Norfolk, Va.) was architect for the project and Memphis-based Grinder, Taber, Grinder, Inc. was general contractor.

“After more than 30 years, finally having all of our essential facilities under one roof will change the very essence of how we operate as a department. The greatest benefit will be seen in our first obligation – the improved instruction of our students,” says Julia “Cookie” Ewing, Chair of the Rhodes Department of Theatre.

Features of the expansion include:

  • new office suites for all theatre faculty
  • new costume storage and sewing room
  • one new classroom
  • a new rehearsal hall
  • upgraded lighting electronics and controls for the performance hall
  • new air conditioning and heating systems for the entire complex
  • storage room for stage props and set-building materials
  • new entrance patio and loggia (a roofed arcade)

The crowning achievement of the expansion project is a second black-box theatre space dubbed the McCoy Studio, which is only slightly smaller than the main performance hall. The primary function of this space will be for use in the instruction of theatre production and acting classes, since its similarity to the performance hall will double the possible schedule for academic courses in which such a space is necessary.

A secondary, albeit important, use of the Studio will be as an after-hours rehearsal space when a production is running in the main theatre. It also will increase opportunities for students in their pursuit of independent projects and will serve as a base of operations for visiting artists. As with the main hall, the Studio can be configured in a number of styles (proscenium, three-quarter, in-the-round, etc.) for practical reference during instruction.

In addition to its annual subscription series, the McCoy Theatre now will be able to produce an additional program of events, free and open to the public, in coordination with the curriculum. During the spring semester of the 2006-2007 academic year, visiting artists will be working with community members and students toward an original piece that will premiere in Memphis in the fall of 2007. For season subscription information, contact the McCoy Theatre box office at 901-843-3839 or mccoy@rhodes.edu.