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K-State News
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Student-run theatre commemorates relocation with celebration for the public

Tuesday, March 25, 2014



MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University tradition is joining the modern world. The Purple Masque Theatre's update and relocation will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 5, at the K-State Alumni Center's Johnson Terrace as part of the All-University Open House.

The Purple Masque Theatre is a student-centered theatre that is currently used for drama therapy, acting and directing, student showcases, play readings, workshops, Ebony Theatre performances and more.

The decades-old theatre is being relocated from East Stadium to West Stadium to create a modern space for students to perform and learn, and to allow construction of the university's new Welcome Center on the east side. Gary Mortenson, director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, said the short, informational event on April 5 is an opportunity for supporters and friends to hear updates on the theatre's progress.

"The architects will be on hand to give construction updates as of that week," Mortenson said. "We've invited university and program leaders, and we hope supporters of the school will wander over from other open house activities."

After the event, visitors are welcome to view the construction progress for themselves. Renderings of the completed project also will be available for attendees. The original structure was built in the 1920s, and Mortenson said the architects and builders are taking great care to keep the integrity of the stonework in place. The new theatre will feature modern utilities and will function as an experimental theatre and learning environment.

"Purple Masque has a long tradition of being run by students, so function has to follow that structure," he said. "It won't be overly ornate, but it will be a functional, quasi-laboratory setting that pays homage to the past."

Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the college has been intentional in its investments in the new School of Music, Theatre, and Dance since the school's creation in 2013.

"The Purple Masque Theatre will continue to be one of the many important venues in the school, supporting student training and development as well as providing audiences with an intimate theatre experience found in Top 50 programs," Dorhout said. "The new space will enable students and faculty to have access to state-of-the-art facilities for performance."

Mortenson said both the new theatre and the upcoming Welcome Center will serve as front doors to the university. He encouraged Kansas State University supporters to attend the celebration, and thanked the administration for its support.

"When you truly invest in the future of a program, you create an environment of excitement," he said. "The Purple Masque is a vibrant part of the creative environment on campus. We greatly appreciate the support of President Kirk Schulz, Provost April Mason and Dean Dorhout. Our students and faculty are committed to stewarding the gift that the university has given us."

The $6 million project comes from university funds and should be completed in summer 2015.


Gary Mortenson

Written by

Megan Saunders

At a glance

The Purple Masque Theatre celebrates its relocation and informs visitors about construction progress. 

Notable quote

"When you truly invest in the future of a program, you create an environment of excitement."

— Gary Mortenson, director, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance