Opened in November 2017, the new MIT Theater Arts Building (W97) arrives at a time when the Institute’s theater program is experiencing exponential growth in stature, scope, and student engagement. MIT students value theater for many reasons, not least for its incomparable lens on the human world and for experiences that develop skills in collaboration, communication, and risk-taking that are valuable in any field. The new building signifies the Institute’s strong commitment to the arts as an integral mode of exploration and discovery.
Transformed from an aging warehouse at 345 Vassar Street into an a purpose-built makerspace, W97 contains a 180-seat, two-story blackbox performance space, rehearsal spaces, costume and scene design shops, dressing rooms, and spaces for study, offices, and exhibitions. Studios are fitted with lighting grids and ample power for technical classes and to enable experiments with theater technologies. “The new facility gives students access to more industry-standard situations,” says faculty member Jay Scheib, director of the Theater Arts program. “Now when they take our design classes and our tech classes, it will be hands-on and at scale.”
While affording students greater access to space and equipment, W97 enables more collaborations and professional engagements. With a generous endowment from MIT Council for the Arts member Nancy Lukitsh ’78, MIT will invite leading theater figures to campus to share their works and teach master classes.