'Noises Off'

Renovated theater debuts

Ruth Stevens


   

Adam Friedman, Theatre Intime's general manager, and some of the student set-builders outside the newly renovated Hamilton-Murray Theater.


 

Noises Off" has a double meaning for students involved in Princeton's Theatre Intime.

It refers to the Michael Frayn comedy that opens the group's 2000-01 season.

Taken literally, it also refers to the ceasing of sound from construction equipment that has inhabited the Hamilton-Murray Theater for the past four months.

Theatre Intime closed May 20 for the most extensive renovation of its home since the building was gutted by fire in 1933. Funding for the $1 million project was provided by a collaborative effort among Theatre Intime alumni and undergraduates, the University administration and members of the Princeton community.

"The University has backed up its commitment to us and its trust in us by helping to fund this renovation," said Adam Friedman, a senior who is the group's general manager.


"Noises Off"
8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 28-30, with a matinee set for 2 p.m. Sept. 30. Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for faculty and staff, and $10 for general admission. Call 258-4950 for reservations.


    

Students manage every aspect of Theatre Intime, from choosing the plays to setting the ticket prices. This tradition of student control was honored during the renovation.

"Students were involved from the beginning," Friedman said. "We had input in everything from planning to fund raising to implementing this project."

The renovations are intended to make the public spaces more inviting, to improve the operation of the theater and to ensure it meets safety codes. Specifics include:

• Extending the lobby to enclose both entrances to the auditorium, adding a second public restroom and air conditioning, and restoring the hardwood floors and wood paneling in the public spaces.

• Relocating the box office.

• Refurbishing the house, proscenium and stage, and replacing the audience seating.

• Reconfiguring the lower level to provide improved production, storage and administrative areas; reconstructing the dressing rooms and creating dedicated storage for building materials.

• Replacing the narrow wooden stairway from the lobby to the basement.

• Constructing a new fire exit from the theater shop, which also provides improved delivery access.

• Upgrading the lighting and sound systems, including digitizing the dimmers and sound effects.

• Modernizing the safety systems and improving accessibility.

Theatre Intime started in a Witherspoon Hall dormitory room in 1920 and moved to the former chapel in Murray-Dodge Hall a year later. Intime (pronounced AHN-teem) takes its name from the French word for intimate -- and apt description for the 200-seat theater.

The student-run organization has remained active since that time, except for a temporary setback in 1933 because of the fire and suspended activities during World War II when Navy lecturers used the venue.

Nearly 300 students currently on campus have been involved in some aspect of Theater Intime. Friedman estimates that only about 10 percent are enrolled in the University's Program in Theater and Dance. The other 90 percent come from a range of departments and programs.

"That's why it's so much fun," said Friedman, who is majoring in molecular biology. "We get quite an eclectic mix of personalities."

The organization stages seven shows a year, each running two weekends. The theater also annually plays host to about 10 outside groups, ranging from dance to theater to choral performers.

Construction was scheduled to run almost right up until opening weekend Sept. 21-23. "Noises Off" will continue its run at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 28-30, with a matinee set for 2 p.m. Sept. 30. Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for faculty and staff, and $10 for general admission. Call 258-4950 for reservations.


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