By Shane Perusse
Ryerson is working with the City of Toronto to find the theatre school a new, permanent home, said interim president Mohamed Lachemi. But the process could take about five years.
“We are in a very serious discussion with the mayor’s office, including (with) the mayor himself,” Lachemi said, mentioning that he is also in talks with a number of partners throughout the city about possible new locations.
A spokesperson from the mayor’s office couldn’t be reached for comment.
Theatre school students will be dispersed throughout the campus after the school’s Board of Governors decided that their old building at 44 Gerrard St. is too dilapidated and termite-ridden to warrant repair.
“The building is crumbling and we need to vacate as soon as possible,” said Peggy Shannon, chair of the theatre school. “At this point it has become a health and safety issue.”
Students will be moved to temporary locations throughout the university until a new building can be found.
Accommodations, including dance studios and a new mezzanine level, will be opened in the Student Learning Centre (SLC) by fall 2016. Most of the acting program will be relocated to Kerr Hall, while faculty offices and administration will move to a space in the Atrium on Bay Street.
“Given the specific requirements for the theatre program, we need to have facilities that can accommodate them,” Lachemi said. “It’s impossible to find a facility that will accommodate them in the short term. So the solution is that we find them a temporary space.”
For some students, it is difficult to say goodbye to the old theatre school building.
“It’s going to be an adjustment,” said Alex Gilbert, a wardrobe supervisor. “I’ll miss the sunlight from the windows (in the old building), but it’s time for a change.”
Others worry that the temporary loss of a central venue will make it difficult for students in different programs to connect with one another.
“I’m concerned that our sense of community will be impacted by the move,” said Brooke Morrice, a fourth-year acting student.
“It’s really important for theatre artists to collaborate with different departments and learn from other students in different fields.”
But steps have been taken to maintain connections between the acting, dance and production programs.
“The loss of communal space was a concern,” Shannon said. “Because of that we’re encouraging students to find spaces in the SLC to stake out and make their own.”
Shannon said she plans on organizing outside events, such as barbecues, to bring future theatre students together.
“We won’t all be working together the same way,” said Scott Phyper, a first-year production student. “But we’re still going to find a way love each other all the same.”