Pool Gets Dramatic Change

Experimental Theater Takes Over Adams House Space

The Adams House pool, past home to dippers like Gov. William F. Weld '66 and more recently a site for raucous parties, will enter a new phase next term--as an experimental theater.

The legendary cavern will be equipped with bleachers, lights, an overhead grid and a sound system, according to Adams House non-resident tutor Richard E. Nash '92. Nash has already produced three plays in the space without the specialized equipment.

Nash said the changes will leave the pool's infrastructure intact so that if funds are available later, it can be used as a pool again.

Adams House Master Robert J. Kiely said that the pool, which had been open since 1888 until it was closed three years ago, had started to leak so badly that it was weakening the foundation of the building.

"It was losing hundreds of gallons of water a day," said Kiely. "The University spent quite a bit of money fixing it, trying to patch it up. They decided that short of rebuilding it, it really couldn't be done."

But according to Nash, who has already produced three plays in the ghostly echo-chamber, the pool has a special charm as a theater.

"It is an incredibly beautiful, idiosyncratic sort of space with very peculiar acoustics," Nash said. "It is one of the few theaters in the world in which you can stand with your back to the wall and whisper and still be audible."

A resident of Adams House when the pool was shut down three years ago, Nash sought to clarify that it was closed because of leakage--not, as legend has it, because of the unruly antics of pool users.

"I am not a subscriber to the contrived belief that the pool was shut down by the University due to the fun and frolics of our class--it's our own arrogance to believe what we were doing was any more raunchy than that of decades earlier," Nash said.

Nash says he is wary of possible plans to reduce the echoes in the space by hanging black theater masking, a move that would "destroy the idiosyncrasies of the theater."

Nash also expressed concern that future producers would not fully appreciate the pool's distinctive qualities as a theater.

"I hope when it becomes a theater that it used by people that believe in the principles that its previous users have believed it, but I doubt it," Nash said.

"The thought of doing a musical--a conventional Broadway musical--in the swimming pool filled me with dread."

"If I had any say, it would be used for serious experimental work, for things that go out on a limb, that are dangerous," Nash said.