"Tyler Hall is such a public building. It's where the college really gets to shine and show off its performing arts as well as its visual arts," said Julie Pretzat, dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts. "It has always been a very community-friendly space, so we thought it was really important to celebrate what we've come through the past two years and where we are now, and to invite the community back so they see the great things that are going on."
A two-year, $22.2 million first phase of 48-year-old Tyler Hall’s rejuvenation has produced a sweeping new lobby with a curved-glass theater facade; state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal, recording and gallery spaces; and a running start on the $18 million remainder of the project, already under way through 2018.
Activities abound for the campus and community the week of Oct. 27 to Nov. 2: Events in Tyler's renovated and modernized Waterman Theatre include the 11th annual Lewis B. O'Donnell Media Summit, the iconic musical "The Wizard of Oz" and a performance by the renowned Ailey II dance troupe. "Restart," an exhibition of work from artists across the nation, will be under way in Tyler Art Gallery. Faculty as well as students from the college and area schools will provide the music for events that include a pair of open houses with student-led tours of the theater, gallery, new digital recording studio, a glassy instrumental rehearsal hall and a new choral rehearsal room.
A campus open house will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, with a community open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. Adults and children from around the region are especially invited to the Saturday event, featuring Oz-inspired face painting and mask making, as well as performances by such area talents as the Oswego Youth Orchestra and the Oswego Youth Conservatory's choir.
Pretzat said each event will resonate with the themes of coming home and new beginnings. The themes -- and the building -- are inclusive, she said: The design welcomes people who have never been to the old Tyler, the thousands who have attended performances and exhibitions since its original opening in 1968, and those who need access to navigate it.
"The improvements that have been made to Tyler Hall in terms of accessibility are a direct reflection of our understanding that our audience includes people who have accessibility challenges, and we've really addressed that with this building: the hearing loops, the elevators, the ramps, the rows of handicap-accessible seating in the theater," Pretzat said.
Take Two playlist
Signature events emphasize the cross-disciplinary and community uses of Tyler Hall:
* Thursday, Oct. 27: The Lewis B. O'Donnell Media Summit, with the theme "Digital-Social-Mobile: How Media Trends Impact Theatre, Art and Music," begins at 3 p.m. The stage for the WTOP-televised event will feature many Oswego connections: moderator Sean McAllister, class of 2001, executive producer and co-host of two entertainment news programs on Las Vegas Fox affiliate KVVU; and panelists George "Nick" Gianopoulos, class of 2007, a Los Angeles-based composer; Diana Preisler, class of 1996, star of Lifetime's reality series "Pitch Slapped"; actress Mya Brown, a visiting assistant professor of theater at the college; and 2002 graduate Michael Yoon, a communications manager and graphics specialist at Princeton University.
The media summit's event director and assistant, students Kalie Hudson and Boni Quatroche, said they are proud that the panel links all four departments in the School of Communication, Media and the Arts: art, communication studies, music and theater. "We are going to be on the set of ‘The Wizard of Oz' in the summit's return to Waterman Theatre," Hudson said. "I think this is going to be a high-energy event with a lot of participation from all the disciplines."
* Thursday, Oct. 27, through Saturday, Oct. 29: In the second week for "The Wizard of Oz" performances, all ticketed, a cast that includes area schoolchildren as munchkins will provide an across-the-decades echo of Waterman Theatre's birth -- "The Wizard of Oz" was one of the first plays offered there more than 45 years ago, Pretzat said. Finding one's way in life and eventually coming home -- with a contemporary twist -- provide the theme for the college theater and music departments' fall production. "With the reopening of Waterman Theatre, I really wanted the local community to feel like they belong here," said director Jonel Langenfeld, a theater professor.
* Daily (except Monday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: The free "Restart" exhibition pays homage to the first one ever in Tyler Art Gallery, which similarly was a juried show attracting artists from across the nation, said Michael Flanagan, the gallery director. "The idea of new beginnings and fresh starts is something all artists think about," he said. "Most artists would be able to find something in their work to include in the show."
* Wednesday, Nov. 2: New York City's Ailey II company of the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will take the Waterman stage at 7:30 p.m. in a ticketed performance of its emotional "Revelations," showcasing some of America's best young dance talent.
In addition, as always, the media summit has a networking component, inviting alumni as "Career Connectors" to advise and encourage students in future careers in communications fields; an Arts Alumni Career Panel; and the annual communication studies dinner will feature, for the first time, a Student-Alumni Networking Fair on Oct. 29.
"I'm excited for the students," said Jordan Oatman, a senior communication studies major and arts management minor coordinating student volunteers for the open houses and helping organize the communication studies dinner. "We have students who have spent half their time on Oswego's campus not knowing Tyler Hall ... and yet they chose our art and our theater and our music programs anyway. I'm excited they can now work in the space they were meant to work in. We put on such amazing art now; everything is just going to flourish that much more now that we're back in Tyler."
For more information, visit the Tyler Hall Take Two Debut website, oswego.edu/scmaweek.