This year, the Drama House, a popular venue for UR performers and actors, is forced to limit occupancy of the main room to 49 people for fire safety reasons.The Fire Marshal’s office requires that the maximum number of both performers and guests in the main room be under 50 people at any performance. “After a series of deadly and terrible fires on campuses all around the nation, the Fire Marshal’s office has begun to re-evaluate the safety conditions in all campus buildings,” Artistic Director of UR International Theatre Program Nigel Maister said. “I believe this is a process that is being carried out statewide.” To secure the safety of UR performers and guests, some student organizations who wish to use the main room of the Drama House now have to find alternative places for performances.Because the Drama House is one of the popular spaces for various performances to be held, various student organizations are upset, but members of the Drama House and the International Theatre Program are asking for students to understand the situation. “We’re in support of the university’s decision to be safe about this,” Drama House Logistics Officer and senior Kelly Smith said. “They’ve really been helping us out a great deal through all of this.” However, this does not mean that the quality of shows is degrading. “We are still holding a lot in the Drama House, many rehearsals and such,” Drama House scheduling officer and senior David Pascoe said. “We are planning some smaller productions and possibly a dinner theater to be held in the house.””We’re planning to stage more plays this year than any year that I can remember,” Smith added. “So I guess it really hasn’t slowed us down at all.”One positive note to this regulation is that the Drama House can still be used for parties since the parties are usually held in the entire house and not only believes that although the Drama House cannot be used for large events, students can explore other places for holding performances in a creative way. “A positive side effect of these restrictions is that they have spurred the student body – at least those who were planning on conducting theatrical work in the House – to [try new things],” Maister said. Both Smith and Pascoe are exploring other venues on campus where they can hold performances. “This weekend, we’re holding ‘Julius Caesar’ on the lawn in front of Susan B. Anthony Hall,” Smith said.Though the members of the Drama House, UR Theatre Program, and student organizations are all hoping for the Drama House to reopen to hold larger events, it will probably not happen this year due to the costs UR must deal with to fix all campus buildings. “[But] I am hopeful that the House will be up and functioning fully by the next academic year,” Maister said.Most of the necessary changes have already been made or are expected soon. “We have been making some of the changes already – [upgrading] smoke detection and exit lighting equipment, changing exit door swings from inward to outward required for performance versus residential areas, working with the academic department on lighting safety issues, etc.,” Director of Residential Life Logan Hazen said. “Unfortunately, the State code requiring a new exterior fire escape from the fireplace end, Fraternity Road side of the lounge was not feasible. Thus the limitations.”The fire escape required by newly enforced safety regulations is prohibitively expensive. “The only issue we have is that to allow us the audience we are used to getting, a new fire escape in the main room must be installed,” Pascoe said. “For some reason, this fire escape will cost $34,000, which seems a bit pricey.”Aoyama can be reached at email@example.com.
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