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Factory Theatre prepares for last curtain


November 10, 2011

By Chrissy Niemaus

Cleveland State’s Factory Theatre opened in 1968 amid a growing campus in the heart of Downtown Cleveland. Now, more than 40 years later, this theater will close, giving way to a new beginning and leaving behind millions of memories.

Michael L. Mauldin, cast member, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at CSU, finds it easy to reminisce about the past six years in the department. He recalls a time when he directed “She Stoops to Conquer,” a play that enabled Mauldin and the crew to transform the inside of the Factory Theatre into a typical 18th century theater.

“It’s not hard to move on to the Allen (Theatre),” he says. “It’s hard to leave the Factory.”
“The Tempest,” beginning Nov. 10 and running through Nov. 20, will bid farewell to the Factory Theatre as its final production before the move to the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square begins at the end of the month. While some may be sad to see the Factory Theatre go, Tyler Moliterno, who plays Sebastian, is hopeful of the transition.

“While I’m sad to see the space go,” he says, “I’m optimistic about the future of CSU theatre at Playhouse Square.”

As “The Tempest” was Shakespeare’s final full play, director Allan Byrne noted, “it is (only) fitting for “The Tempest” to call the curtains for the final play on campus.”

But as some cast, crew and alumni embrace the move with more than willingly open arms, not all theater veterans find themselves supporting the change.

The first performance that Rodger Govea, chair at the Department of Political Science at CSU, saw at the Factory Theatre was in 1979. Then, in 1998, Govea performed for the first time. Being a longtime supporter of the Factory Theatre and putting himself in the role of Alonso for this show, he finds it difficult to understand why the move is necessary.

“People would dismiss (Factory Theatre) as an old, run down eyesore,” he says. “Had CSU invested in the building and program, we would have had a much better arrangement.”

Instead, Govea says, the building has been allowed to deteriorate, and that CSU officials have now “decided to abandon it.”

Still, he hopes the new space at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square will become good for the Theatre Department, while he clearly remains tied to CSU’s Factory Theatre.

The cast and crew of “The Tempest”, consisting of alumni, faculty, staff and students, tend to share mixed emotions of the move to the Allen Theatre. All, at least, seem to share a loyalty to theater that has remained plenty strong. They are hopeful that spirit of camaraderie and loyalty will carry on to the new home in Playhouse Square.

Mauldin, who plays the role of Prospero in “The Tempest,” sees it to be an integral part of the farewell, anticipates an emotional performance by all.

“It’s all about letting go,” Mauldin said. “I’m sure it will be hard to get through the production itself.”

Maudlin is confident that the move to Allen Theatre will raise the profile of the program in the region.

“Unparalleled! I think we’re going to have one of the best theatre departments in the country,” Maudlin said.

The location of Allen Theatre, in the heart of Downtown Cleveland’s Theater District, is likely to give CSU performers the opportunity to gain broader exposure onstage, even if the space is shared.

“I remind myself that a theater is not a building,” Byrne said, “But the spirit of the artists in it.”