Named after Ninetta May Runnals (Dean of Women from 1920 to 1949), the Runnals building is located on the south end of campus near the Foss residence hall and is home to the Department of Performance, Theater & Dance. This magnificent building was built in 1939 and housed sorority meeting rooms and the women’s gymnasium for about thirty five years. In 1976 the building was remodeled and Strider Theater was constructed where the gymnasium once stood. In 1984, the Performing Arts Program (now Theater & Dance) was founded with a course of study including a sixteen course, interdisciplinary major. The founding of the Performing Arts Program coincided with the end of fraternities and sororities on campus so Runnals Union became the Runnals Performing Arts Center. At this time the sorority meeting rooms became offices and classrooms for a growing academic program in the performing arts.
Today, Runnals is primarily used by the Department of Performance, Theater & Dance and houses offices, classrooms, production shops, Strider Theater (named in honor of Robert E. L. Strider II — Colby President from 1960 to 1979), the Cellar Theater, the Smith Acting and Directing Studio, and the Dunn Dance Studio. Each year over 5000 people, from students enrolled in classes to patrons of our shows, come through the front doors of this special building to participate in the magic that is theater and dance.
Strider Theater is named in honor of Robert E. L. Strider II (Colby President from 1960 to 1979) and is the Department of Performance, Theater, and Dance’s primary performance venue. This intimate proscenium-style theater, seating 262, was constructed in 1976 and dedicated in 1977. The theater is located in the Runnals building on the south end of campus near the Foss residence hall.
Various and ongoing facility renovations invite students to use first-rate equipment in classes and in production. The lighting and projection systems feature energy-efficient fixtures, intuitive operation of moving lights, and interactive performer-controlled video opportunities. Sound control and reinforcement boasts an excellent, multi-channel inventory with options for interconnectivity with lighting, projections, and even the orchestra pit. A well-equipped scene shop is attached to the stage via sound-proof loading doors.
The Cellar Theater, located below the lobby in Runnals, is an intimate black box theater with seating for as many as fifty-five people in a variety of staging formats including Thrust, Arena, and End-on staging. A small two-scene preset lighting control with submasters, as well as a four-channel stereo sound system, provides an easy-to-use compliment of technical capabilities.
Waterville Opera House
Located in the heart of downtown, the Waterville Opera House is a magnificent 810 seat proscenium theater built in 1902. Managed by the Waterville Opera House Association, this historic theater is the largest and most active facility of its kind in central Maine. The Department of Performance, Theater, and Dance maintains an active relationship with the Waterville Opera House Association using the facility for musical performances, training, and civic engagement opportunities.
Adjacent to the Opera House, and accessible by an enclosed glass walkway, is The Center; an arts and shopping complex that fronts Waterville’s main street. This is the home of The Studio Theater, a small 60 seat theater managed by the Waterville Opera House Association and available to the department and student groups for a very reasonable rental fee. To learn more about these wonderful facilities and the opportunities therein, please visit the Waterville Opera House website.