Center Stage Theatre Group Has Deep Roots

Center Stage Theatre Group Has Deep Roots

Center Stage is a student-run production organization that has been in existence at the College in various forms since at least 1912. It produces four to six shows each year that are entirely separate from the Department of Theatre and Dance

In 1936, part of Randolph Hall was converted for use in a production of Romeo and Juliet. The play was staged by the College's student-run production group, the Dramatic Society, which still exists today as Center Stage.

In 1936, part of Randolph Hall was converted for use in a production of Romeo and Juliet. The play was staged by the College’s student-run production group, the Dramatic Society, which still exists today as Center Stage.

The productions are directed, designed, and performed by theatre majors, minors, and students interested in the theatre.
Todd McNerney, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, says Center Stage provides students with a platform upon which they may attempt to create theatre using  the lessons taught in their classes with very little “interference” from the faculty.

“The students run all aspects and make all artistic decisions for the company. This is a spirit of creativity and student-driven learning which has a long history.”

McNerney says one of the most notable productions produced by the Dramatic Society, the predecessor to Center Stage, was Emmett Robinson’s 1936 production of Romeo and Juliet staged on the Cistern Yard.  Robinson, a 1935 graduate of the College and later a theatre professor, was then president of the organization. The School of the Arts’ Emmett Robinson Theatre is named in his honor.

The production was staged during the Great Depression before the College offered  formal study in theatre, McNerney says.  “Mr. Robinson went on to have one of the most notable and prolific theatrical careers in Charleston history. His accomplishments are an inspiration to current students and Center Stage continues that grand tradition.”

RELATED: Center Stage performs Elephant’s Graveyard for Piccolo Spoleto.