CAPTION: The old blue house curtains sit on the edge of the stage, the new ones already hung in their place. The massive, collapsed cardboard boxes that contained the replacements lurk in the background. (Photo by Katie Budinger)

By Katie Budinger

For the first time since it was built 37 years ago, the J. Everett Collins Center for the Performing Arts replaced its curtains with brand new ones.

The old curtains hadn’t been replaced since the stage was first built, and had to be hung upside down about half way through their life due to the copious amounts of wear and tear. All of the stage curtains were replaced including the house curtain, the main valance, eight legs, four borders, the mid-stage traveler, two full stage black drops, and a drape for the orchestra pit railing. The job was finished Jan. 8.

The endeavor cost about $70,000 in total, covering the costs of labor, disposal of the old curtains, and cost of the new ones, but it was a much needed investment that was funded through a CIP (Capital Improvement Program).

Erin Currie, sophomore and member of the tech crew here at AHS, remarked that the old curtains appeared to have been “attacked by sharks” and looked “like Ratatouille had taken place and [the rats] had eaten the curtains [and] had the cast party on the stage.” They took away from the professionalism and world of the shows. She said, “[W]hen you go to a play that we’ve all been working on so hard… and then you just see the ratty curtains… it snaps you out of the play.” Currie is extremely excited about the update and can’t wait to see the new draperies in action.

The actual hanging of the new draperies was not as daunting as it may seem. Each batten, an 88 foot long metal pipe suspended on a pulley system, was lowered onto the stage floor. The old curtains were untied, and then the new ones tied onto the pipe and “flown” back up.

Mr. Worthley, manager and technical director of the Collins Center, said, “This will be a huge improvement. The old curtains were close to 40 years old [and the] fabric was so brittle due to age that they tore very easily.  It got to the point that we could not repair them anymore.” The old curtains are being thrown away for these very same reasons, as it makes them unable to be repurposed.

The next replacement for the Collins Center, according to Worthley, needs to be the seats. Like the curtains, they haven’t been replaced since the theater was built, and are starting to show their age.