Lifestyle & Features

An Empty Auditorium

: Ally Whittemore outside the Arlene Mitchell Theater.
Ally Whittemore outside the Arlene Mitchell Theater.

There are no plans to reopen the Arlene Mitchell Theater at SHC this semester.

As the COVID-19 pandemic changed the services in and around Spring Hill College, there will not be a play or production at Arlene Mitchell Theater this semester.

Built in 1997, the small theater at SHC closed last Spring along with the college itself. Although many services have opened back up with restrictions, the theater remains closed. Father Campbell, the SHC acting professor and play director, said that he does believe that it will be closed until the end of the pandemic.

Campbell met with his acting class in the theater the first week, but he switched to online after. He said it is too difficult to teach acting from six feet apart. “It’s like teaching boxing without having to touch each other or get close to each other,” he said.

One issue with acting Campbell ran into was social distancing. “If I open it up to the actors, they have to work in very close quarters, so I have to be comfortable for them to do that,” he said, when asked when the theater will open. There is a lot of close contact involved with acting and some actions include hugging and kissing, which he said was rare. 

Ally Whittemore, a senior and former student of Campbell’s, talked about the effects of the theater closing at SHC. “What sucks the most is the missed opportunity to perform here,” Whittemore said. “If your schedule is too busy, then you no longer have an opportunity to act and perform anymore outside of class.”

Public movie theaters are not faring much better. The AMC theater on Schillinger Road is the closest theater that is open, but not many people are going. On Saturday afternoon at the AMC theater, the parking lot was empty. In the lobby, there was not a person at the ticket booth to collect tickets. Once customers get their ticket, they head straight to the auditorium.

Some students believe it is still unsafe to go to the movies such as Whittemore. “I think people will ignore guidelines and share their food, while employees will have a hard time cleaning all of the auditoriums,” Whittemore said. She suggested that having no food or drink would help.

Other students disagree. Caleb Lyght, an SHC junior, believes that the theaters are safe. The seats are separated and they are disinfected after each feature presentation. Also, there are not many people that go to the movies according to Lyght.

According to the official AMC website, the AMC theater on Schillinger Road is now only open from Fridays to Tuesdays. Right before the movie starts, a bumper plays that asks customers to keep their masks on.

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