Spectrum Theatre completes $12,000 fundraiser, resumes operations

Peter Kotecki, Reporter

After two months of fundraising to cover a $12,000 fine, Spectrum Theatre Company announced Thursday it reached its goal and will be able to resume operations for the upcoming academic year.

Spectrum, founded in 2005 to produce socially conscious theater for Northwestern students, received the fine last year for space violations that occurred in Norris University Center during preparations for their production of “Merrily We Roll Along.”

The Office of Student Conduct restricted Spectrum from performing on campus until the fine was paid, said Communication junior Janie Dickerson, the group’s business manager.

The space violations resulted from difficulties experienced due to a shortened tech process, Dickerson said. Most of the $12,000 went toward covering half of the cost of a ripped projector screen in McCormick Auditorium, she added. No one was injured from the incident.

“Members of the team prioritized getting the show up and ready and sparkling by Thursday as opposed to being safe and following the rules,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said Spectrum members normally build sets two weekends before a show opens. The company loads into the performance space the Sunday before opening night and holds its first performance on a Thursday, she said. Tech week of “Merrily We Roll Along” was truncated because McCormick Auditorium was in use until Monday, putting Spectrum a day behind in its preparations, she added.

The fundraiser’s success will allow Spectrum to showcase a full theatrical season this year, Dickerson said. Donations to the company came from NU student organizations, family members of Spectrum’s executive board and an Indiegogo campaign, she said.

Communication senior Courtney Quinn, vice president of finance for the NU Student Theatre Coalition, said she worked with Dickerson and facilitated communication between Spectrum and other boards within the StuCo community to help with the fundraiser.

“I feel that if one of our boards is hurting in a bad situation, then it really is detrimental to all of the boards,” Quinn said. “They are all providing the theatre community with different needs and different shows.”

Spectrum submitted all of the money raised to the Office of Student Conduct on Aug. 20 but was not cleared right away because about $3,000 in checks were sent directly to the University and cashed by an unknown NU department, Dickerson said.

The office needed all of the money before clearing Spectrum for operation, Dickerson said, so she submitted a personal check on Thursday in the amount of the cashed checks to formally lift the restriction. Dickerson added she will work closely with Stella Okeke, assistant director of student conduct at NU, to locate the payments.

The Office of Student Conduct declined to comment.

Dickerson said Spectrum communicated with Norris to confirm full tech weeks for all of its productions this year. The company will also undergo internal changes to avoid future violations, she said.

McCormick senior Matthew Cassoli will serve on Spectrum’s executive board as its technical mentor, a new position designed to help board members and reduce the risk of violating protocols, Dickerson said.

“Not only is (Cassoli) providing mentorship for designers and production and technical directors … he also is serving as our internal risk manager,” she said.

Cassoli said he is very excited about the new position and will work on making Spectrum’s executive board as technically competent as possible. Each week, Cassoli will cover different technical topics at board meetings as well as go over Norris rules with Spectrum members, he added.

“I will give a little bit more in-depth practical knowledge that can hopefully make the board members more useful when they are in the space trying to support one of their shows,” Cassoli said.

Spectrum will also expand its on-call system by requiring board members to take shifts throughout tech week to help with productions and maintain safety, Dickerson said. There is a fine line between keeping productions safe and micromanaging each play, she added.

“A large part of what the theatre department is at Northwestern is a hands-on learning experience, and we don’t want anyone to feel like we are overstepping our boundaries … but we also need to make sure everyone is being safe and following protocols,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said Spectrum will prioritize a theme of relevancy in its productions this year. She said its upcoming shows include “Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man’s Blues,” a play about the effects of war on people, “A Bright New Boise,” which discusses the role of faith in the modern world, and “Project NU,” which aims to encourage dialogue on sociopolitical issues relevant to campus.

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