Wright-Designed Theater-In-The-Round Restored And Rededicated
Mark Hollis performed "Barrabas" at the rededication of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed theater in the round.
LAKELAND (April 12, 2012) – The only theater in the round designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has been restored and was rededicated on April 4 with a dramatic performance.
About 125 people, near the theater’s capacity, attended the performance of “Barabbas,” a one-man show written and performed by Mark C. Hollis about the thief who was released in the place of Jesus.
The small and unique theater, located in the Lucius Pond Ordway Building, has been undergoing restoration for about three years to return it to the original look and feel of Wright’s design. It is the first stage in long-term efforts to restore the Ordway Building.
“The theater really jumped out as a starting point because it has so much potential,” said Terry Dennis, FSC Vice President for Finance and Administration. “It could be used for lectures or for small, intimate shows like the one last week.”
The Ordway Building, including the theater, was originally dedicated in 1952. Over the years it had been modified, including having the interior walls painted black by the Theater Department. Dennis said the restoration involved having the paint and other additions removed and clearing the windows that encircle the cupola at the top of the theater.
The theater’s original lighting and acoustic design are unique. The only lights in the theater shine upward onto the ceiling, giving reflected rather than direct light. And because of a dome in the cupola above the center of the floor, anyone speaking from that spot can easily be heard throughout the theater.
Mr. Hollis’ performance recaptured one of the original uses of the theater. It was used by the Vagabonds, FSC’s theater troupe, until the Lora Lee Buckner Theatre was built.
Still remaining to be done in the theater’s restoration is to reopen an entrance into the theater from the original lobby of the building to relocate the air conditioning ducts – there was no air conditioning in the building originally – so they are not visible.