Beacon Vault: Arts Center Curtain Rises

Luke Modrovsky, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note:

The Beacon has quite the storied past. The Beacon has enjoyed many years of success, publishing continuously since 1936.

The newspaper began as The Bison Stampede from 1934 until 1936 before changing names to The Beacon.

Each week, we’ll dust off a piece to dig through the university’s archives.

This week, we look at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center that sits on River Street.

The Center has been home to Wilkes University Theatre for many years.

While many building uses across campus have changed over the years, the Darte Center has remained the same.

Names have changed over the years from within the center, but the memories will live forever.

Check out next week’s look back into the past as things get a little spooky in our Halloween issue.

Curious to see more online? Check out to dig through a Wilkes University treasure.

-Complied by Luke Modrovsky, Editor-in-Chief


The Center for the Performing Arts, designed with the student in mind, will be dedicated on Oct. 25 at 4:30 p.m. Al Groh, College theatrical director, has evaluated the structure as “one of the best-equipped theatres of its kind on any college campus.” Paul Green, playwright and director of the Caroling Players, will be principal speaker at the ceremony. Speaking at the dedication dinner will be Donald Oenslager, a member of the faculty of Yale University and stage designer of the Lincoln Center in New York City and Kennedy Art Center in Washington, D. C.

Oenslager has worked closely with Mr. Groh in determining specifications for stage and lighting at the theatre. Leigh Allen, renowned designer and decorator, is responsible for much of the decor, interior design, and furnishings.

Between the two entrance doors, on the   fourth wall of the glass enclosed lounge on the second level of the theatre, bangs a medieval tapestry, hued in white and gold. The print, imported from Germany. features knights, horses, and regal ladies, and was designed exclusively for the Center.

The walls of the main auditorium, readorned with a specially textured gold fabric, imprinted with a design modernized by Allen. The seating is fashioned in a semi-arena, with no seat being farther than 50 feet from the proscenium, even though the gridiron over the stage is 50 feet in height.Says Mr. Groh, “An attempt has been made to transfer to the new center the intimate quality that prevailed in Chase Theatre.”

Three Blue Ceilings

The tiers of bucket seats lie beneath three drop ceilings, each a different shade of blue. The circular front of the stage consists of a lift platform which can be used as an orchestra pit or, when elevated to maximum height, as part of the stage itself.

Wall-to-wall carpeting, designed by Allen, is featured throughout the Center. Seven cut-glass, crystal chandeliers, a product of the same designer, hang over the two stair wells and elsewhere throughout the theatre.

The lower level consists of a large chorus room, containing full wall mirrors, to be used as a rehearsal ball or a make-up and costume room for large groups. The level also has individual dressing rooms, a guest dressing room equipped with a shower. a kitchen and sewing room, and fully-tiled rest rooms. The Green Room, scene of future conferences, meetings, and lounging, features vinyl wall covering, wall-to-wall carpeting, and furniture especially manufactured for the College by the Kanaar Corporation.

Century Lighting had built custom equipment for the theatre. The projection booth contains a ten-scene preset electronic control panel board.

Sundry types of performances can be accomplished in the theatre — drama, music, concerts, solo acts, motion pictures, and art exhibits.

On October 31, the Wilkes-Barre Ballet Guild will perform in honor of the theatre. Jozia Mieszkowski’s creation of a ballet based on the College’s performance of “The Sound of Music” will he presented.

Challenging Program

To meet the challenge of the new building, Mr. Groh is in the process of selecting a challenging program for the students. He forsees the performance of a see of one-act plays in December and the accomplishment of several major productions during the spring semester.

Since music, art, and drama are joined in spirit, it is anticipated they will be joined physically by additions to the fine arts complex within the next few years. The Center for the Performing Arts, a million-dollar structure whose donors wish to remainanonymous, augments the College’s humanities program. Mr. Groh predicts the addition of courses in the drama and also special summer program. His aim is to enable students to have the opportunity to work in the theatre, to enjoy and appreciate it.

It is hoped that the theatre will be able to convey to all who enter the words spoken by Robert Edmond Jones in The Dramatic Imagination: “Keep in your souls images of magnificence.”