All day yesterday and today, we received reports of heat extremes from points within our school. Too hot in PED 204- no air in PED 114. Faculty across the spectrum of the theatre disciplines bemoaned catatonic students unable to concentrate on design concepts or acting beats, textual analysis, or rehearsal of their plays. Temperatures reached over 91 in the costume shop. The fire alarm there went off due to the heat. How can we help? Our hands are tied. We can’t add air conditioning units because the building, built in 1928, cannot support the extra electrical needs of air conditioners. The entire second floor is supported by two 20 amp circuits.
I just heard on the news that LAUSD has similar woes, with the cost of providing air conditioning to all the schools estimated at 20-25 million dollars.
Hey, write us a check for 30 million and I can promise you a school at USC with your name on it. Or at least a building. We could sure use one of those.
Yesterday, I attended the groundbreaking for the largest new development in the history of South LA, aka the USC Village. Under the gauzy white open sided tent, tan carpet separated the well-heeled feet of USC Administrators, Los Angeles pols and other interested onlookers from the compacted soil of the recently razed University Village. Gone was the Superior Market, the Wendy’s, the laundromat, Radio Shack, the food court, and our little theatre, the USC University Village Theatre, where countless students learned how to Act on Camera with Professor Joe Hacker, or learned how to produce an Independent Student Project.
Now, in the relentless heat, seated on the neatly arrayed white wooden chairs, shoulder to shoulder, fanning ourselves desperately with our programs, we listened as speakers lauded the upcoming 650 million dollars of investment in USC and the surrounding community. My heart went out to the 10 Trojan Marching band students as they paraded past my row, sun blazing down on their cardinal and gold polyester costumes, then watched them as they filed to the front and stood heroically for over an hour in the late morning sun.
Closer to home, there was some serious demolition going on to the east of my office building, the relentless beep beep beep of the backward moving backhoe, as it pushed the fallen wreckage of the CW One building and the little church on the corner of Child’s Way and McClintock into neat piles and then into a series of trucks who carted the memories of the buildings away from the site.
Our little community, the CWT II building, received a temporary reprieve. Our given moving date is May 15, 2015, or Commencement day. Just as the students have to vacate their dorms by 5:00 on that day, so we will also be moved out of our offices. We will all share the uncertainty of post graduation together, new home, new work, new work rhythms.
People don’t like change. I have always had a lot of trouble with change. When I was stage managing regularly at the Geffen Playhouse, they announced that a major renovation would happen and the Geffen operations would move to the Brentwood Theatre. Concurrently, I received an offer to stage manage a show at the Ahmanson, and happily accepted that job, relieving me of the wrench of the transition at the Geffen. I felt a little traitorous about taking the job and leaving my colleagues to deal with the move.
I don’t see the same avoidance technique working this time, however, so I watch with avid interest as the lot next door clears. I know that it is just a matter of time before the Trojan Marching Band is marching past where my office once was on its way to the next Ground breaking ceremony.