The Play’s the Thing at the Woodman This Weekend
The Woodman Center will be busy this weekend with a full slate of performances, kicking off the 2017-18 season. MB’s exciting upper school theatrical season will cover themes of “Revolution, Resistance, and Reunion.” Upper school is staging The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Twelfth Night by Shakespeare:
-open to the public-all are welcome-
In the spring, MBinRep will stage Les Miserables, plus student-directed works by Arthur Miller and Sarah Treem.
The Woodman Center debuted its first student performances last spring, with middle school’s dynamic presentation of The Lion King, Jr., followed by A Chorus Line by upper school. The fifth grade also staged an original play all about Rhode Island.
MB celebrated the opening of the Woodman Family Community & Performance Center in December 2016 with a housewarming concert with Providence’s Prism of Praise Gospel Choir. The 36,000-square-foot Woodman Center is one of the largest projects in the school’s 232-year history. The building, which features flexible architecture unlike anything found in the Northeast, stands at the center of the MB campus and replaced Alumni Hall, which was built in 1867 and is now an engineering and design/maker space. The project also included the complete renovation of the Walter Jones Library. Based on an original concept by Chicago-based architect Trung Le, designed by Providence-based Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, and built by Providence-based Shawmut Construction, with DEC Consulting as the school’s project manager, the Woodman Center features telescoping seating and hydraulic flooring that enables a quick transition between a 475-seat raked theater and a flat-floored black box or exhibition hall.
“The challenge with many school theaters,” says Head of School Dr. Matt Glendinning, “is that they sit empty about half the time due to the fixed seating. Our hope was to design a building flexible enough to accommodate all the ways we gather as a community, for theater, music, art and cultural exhibitions, social functions, and Quaker meeting for worship.” With a lobby café, new classrooms, art gallery spaces, costume and scene shops, and professional-grade sound and lighting, the Woodman Center is now the new social, artistic, intellectual, and spiritual hub of the MB campus.
The building is named for the family of Dean Woodman ’46 (the fourth of five generations to attend Moses Brown) who is the great-grandson of former headmaster Augustine Jones (Class of 1854). Woodman attributes his love of learning to his time at Moses Brown. “MB instilled in me a commitment to the pursuit of excellence,” he says. He earned a degree from Amherst, served in the Naval Air Corps, and enjoyed a distinguished career as an investment banker, though perhaps his most meaningful investment was in his son Nick’s fledgling startup – GoPro. In 2013, the Woodmans made the largest gift in school history to create the new community and performance center. “It is our hope that the Woodman Center will continue to be utilized by a variety of community organizations,” says Head of School Glendinning. “We see this as part of our role as a member of the Providence community, to promote the intellectual, artistic, and civic vitality that has always been a strength here.”
The housewarming marked a significant milestone in MB Believes: A Campaign for Learning, People, and Place, the largest fundraising effort in school history, launched in 2015 (www.mbbelieves.org).