Students and faculty in Fairfield University’s theatre program said a tearful goodbye to the Pepsico Theater on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 25. The event was held in the theater to commemorate the flood that damaged the building to the point where it had to be closed for repairs for the remainder of the last academic year.
Now, the building has been worked on, but the theatre program will not be moving back in. Instead, the building will be repurposed for the film program. The event began at the theater and then traveled to the Lawrence A. Wien Experimental Blackbox Theater at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, where shows by the theatre program will now be held from here on out. From there, the participants then walked to Loyola Hall, where they were having rehearsal.
“I was hired 30 years ago to start the theatre program,” said Martha S. LoMonaco, Ph.D. in a speech to the attendees. “[Pepsico Theater] continued to be our home until one year ago today, and now I’m going to cry, when a flood took the building out,” said LoMonaco, getting emotional. “So, we had hoped in this past year to complete renovations so that we could move back in, but at some point in the spring it was decided by the administration that the building would be repurposed for the film program.”
Laura Nash, Ph.D., director of the film program said, “I don’t know the entire decision-making process, but I do know that the film program must move out of Xavier this year because Xavier belongs to Prep and they have plans for the basement, which is the film program’s current home.”
“I spent two and a half years in Pepsico before my junior year, until September 25 when we got booted out,” said Fallon Sullivan ‘20, who helped LoMonaco organize the event. “It was like our own home. It was a space where we could come for all of our classes. We had design, we had acting. There was a coffee house so a lot of time before and after rehearsal we’d sit together and run lines, and hang out. For our winter projects which are independent projects, we could get there as early as we wanted to and stay as late as we wanted to.”
“I think the only reason why people didn’t live there full time was because there wasn’t a shower in the building,” said LoMonaco. “What made it so special was that it was ours. For a lot of our courses you need equipment, tools at your disposal for props and scenery as well as costumes, makeup and more. We had that at Pepsico.”
The theater had a stage, makeup and costume shops, classrooms, and a coffeehouse. Now the theatre program is spread out while Pepsico Theater is undergoing even more renovations in order for it to be repurposed for the film program. The arrangement for the theater program involves the program rehearsing in Loyola Hall and performing in the Blackbox.
“In a newer space, or in a space that’s controlled by someone else, we have to follow their guidelines which is sometimes a little harder,” said Sullivan. “Mostly the benefit to Pepsico was it was space that was our own.”
As for how the change in scenery has affected her, Sullivan said, “Being a little displaced, we have found comfort in each other and our love of creating. But it’s definitely a little more hectic now, being more spread out. We have our costume storage in Langguth, our costume creation down at the Quick Center, we have our rehearsals up here [in Loyola Hall], and our shop is down in the Quick and our props are somewhere in a storage bin, I think, down by [Dolan School of Business].”
“Pepsico Theater was our home,” said LoMonaco. “We are a wonderful, loving and supporting community. The arts are resilient, and together we will carry on with our lights towards our new home. This is a fitting goodbye to a home that has been my home for thirty years.”