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John L. Loeb '24, New York investment broker, has given the University one million dollars for the construction of a new Harvard-Radcliffe Theatre. An additional $500,000 is needed to complete the financing of the proposed construction.
The Theatre was most recently proposed last year, when a committee headed by John Nicholas Brown '22 recommended a sweeping revision of University facilities in the area of Visual Arts. Included in the Committee's suggestions was a new Theatre for experimental work in the theatre as well as for standard organization productions.
Harvard and Radcliffe have already made final decisions as to the formal specifications of the building. It will include an amphitheatre-auditorium which should seat about 600 persons, a large stage stretching towards the audience--a compromise between the conventional proscenium stage and the newer apron stage, and a practice stage with a smaller auditorium, for rehearsals and "workshop" productions.
The theatre, which will have heavy emphasis on the development of individual theatrical ability and on new techniques in the theatre, will also have a large number of conference rooms for both formal and informal discussion.
The Loeb gift comes at a time when interest in drama has reached a new high in the College. The past year has seen a total of 45 student productions on the stages of Sanders Theatre, Agassiz, and various House dining halls. The works ran the theatrical gamut from tragedy to comedy, and from such standard theatre fare as Shaw and Shakespeare to the rarely performed works of Strindberg and Genet.
Upon receiving the Loeb gift, President Pusey called for an immediate start in securing designs for a building which will contain the specifications mentioned above. It is understood that this will involve some type of competition between various architects interested in the building.
Officials of "A Program for Harvard College" were confident that the additional $500,000 needed for the completion of the financing would soon follow the million-dollar gift. It is known that Radcliffe will contribute one-tenth of the total cost, or approximately $150,000. This would leave a sum of $350,000 still to come from the "Program."
The problem of a new theatre for the two schools has long been under consideration and has served as the basis of many conflicting opinions as to what type of building the University should have.
Over five years ago a faculty committee on the theatre passed a resolution stating that a Theatre should be built. A committee of Harry T. Levin '33, professor of English, Archibald MacLeish, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, Jose L. Sert, Dean of the Faculty of Design, and Dean Bundy proposed a theatre, largely for experimental purposes, which would accommodate about 500 spectators.
The Committee on the Visual Arts recommended a compromise arrangement which is quite close to the one finally adopted.
Other experts such as Lee Simonson '09 recommended an even larger, 1000 seat auditorium in addition to the 200 seat one. Both these would, under Simonson's plan, be part of a larger Visual Arts Center. The report of the Committee on Visual Arts recommended a Design Center separate from the Theatre. There has been no final decision on such a Center, but it will definitely not be in the same building with the Theatre.
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