With Brustein's Departure, Students Hope for a Bigger Role at Loeb

The University's search for a new director of the Loeb Drama Center is raising hopes among some campus arts aficionados that undergraduates will get expanded access to performance space in the Loeb in future years.

The departure this spring of Loeb Director Robert S. Brustein may give the University an opportunity to renegotiate its contract with the American Repertory Theatre (ART), the Loeb's main tenant.

Brustein has overseen the Loeb and the ART during a time in which students have alleged they do not have sufficient access to the theater's Mainstage.


The Loeb was originally built as a theater space for undergraduates. And in 1979, the ART re-located to the Loeb from New Haven--a move that Harvard thought would give students an opportunity to train with a professional theater company. But the relationship between the ART and Harvard has been strained in recent years, with students clamoring for more access to the Mainstage and the ART eager to keep its own stage time.

Although the ART technically falls under the auspices of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Jeremy R. Knowles, Harvard has essentially given the company carte blanche to determine how it allocates performance space. Officials at the ART have said they need to stage a certain number of shows a year to remain viable as a professional theatre company.

Last spring, six students calling themselves the "Steering Committee on Dance," wrote a 70-page report with the help of College officials, which they submitted to Brustein, Robert J. Orchard, the managing director of the Loeb and ART, and other Harvard administrators. The report asked an additional slot on the Loeb Mainstage be allocated for an undergraduate dance show.

But the ART refused to grant the dancers an extra slot on the Mainstage. Undergraduates still stage just four shows a year in the largest dramatic theater space at Harvard.

Outgoing Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) President Jessica Shapiro '01 says she hopes Brustein's successor fosters a stronger relationship between undergraduates and the ART company.

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