By MAREN CLARK
The Eisner Center
The Eisner Center is open! After a long wait and many detours to get from Ace to Burton or from Bryant to the museum, the newest fixture of Denison’s campus has arrived. A walk through the Eisner center today will include greeting busy construction workers and students moving boxes of books. Head down the lower hallway past theatre offices, as piano notes tiptoe out of a cul-de-sac of practice rooms, or catch a student reaching for a high note in a newly decorated office during a lesson. The acoustics of the unfinished auditorium make you immediately aware of the clac and crunch of drywall and zipties underfoot. Head down there for a peek.
Fun aside, many ask: What will this add to campus? Why was it built? Some even ask whether it was needed at all.
The new Eisner center will bring collaborative space to departments that currently have crumbling cramped and separated space.
As a liberal arts campus, Denison strives to create well-rounded students, not degree-specific experiences. Seniors in the jazz ensemble Lexie Dungan (studio art major) and Drew Ganger (philosophy) shared their feelings on potential criticisms of the Eisner center. They say that the new space is much needed, as the practice rooms are not soundproof and storage for music and instruments is scarce (see students sharing lockers, or the harpsichord that has floated aimlessly around Burke for at least a year). To those who balk at so much money spent on one part of the Denison community and ask how many dance, theatre, and music majors Denison has, Lexie and Drew respond that if you see facilities as serving dedicated majors and minors only, you’re missing the point of a liberal arts education.
The music department was split across multiple buildings and lacked sufficient office space for faculty as well performance space for concerts, rehearsals, and recitals. For years instrumental and vocal ensembles including singer’s theatre shared storage, performance, and rehearsal space. They can’t avoid getting in each other’s way. The beloved Ace Morgan theatre building is falling apart below actors’ feet. Professors are said to keep buckets in their offices to catch the perpetual leaks, and rain-filled tarps with hoses attached hang from the ceiling above the stage.
With the introduction of the Eisner center, we will likely see changes in interaction across disciplines within performing arts, and in the incoming classes. It is uncertain how other arts and performance-related departments and spaces will relate to the Eisner Center.
This brings up questions about whether the cinema department deserves new or similar space. One difference between the cinema department and the ones in Eisner is that they do not need a performance space. Nonetheless, they need spaces to shoot and edit.
“Every other art major has a real collegiate style building and we had a… house,” explains David Schmall of Michigan. Ethan McAtee ‘20, a Cinema Major from East Aurora, New York, shared “I think it’s a shame the Cinema department isn’t being welcomed into the same space. We don’t have a lot of space particularly with editing, I mean look at this room. There is what? five computers?” Cinema could use some more resources. All they ask is a little love, so to start, students interested can go see the Cinema Department’s 44th Denison Film Festival this Saturday at 7pm in Slayter Auditorium!
The Eisner center will allow Denison students to reach heights in the performing arts of which they previously only dreamed. Better, it will give them greater awareness of other types of performing arts and will generate collaborative performance. Hopefully as years go by they keep the spirit of innovation and passion that was fostered in the old buildings alive.
While the Ace Morgan building has seen its final performance (and appropriately so) last spring, the name it bears still deserves honor. Ace Morgan is named after a student who never even graduated. In fact, he didn’t make it past his first year! Yet this individual made an impression and contribution to the arts that impacts us today.
According to the Newark Advocate, Leroy “Ace” Morgan had only completed one year at Denison when he enlisted in the army in 1943 and was shipped out to Europe, where died in battle along Germany’s Siegfried Line. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Morgan was an impressive and spirited presence on campus and in the theatre department, and though he never graduated nor lived to return to his country, his name has resided across the front of Denison’s Theatre building for years.
It is with sorrow that members of the performing arts at Denison glance at the storied halls of old Ace. However, what Eisner currently lacks in history, spirit or ethic, it makes up for tenfold in quality, function, and space for collaboration. This raises the question of how Ace’s memory will continue at Denison after his building becomes a parking lot.
Leroy “Ace” Morgan’s name can also be found on the veteran memorial rock outside Swasey chapel. In a Denisonian article last April, Dr. Evans Bryan of the Theatre department. The article also lamented about the way the unique characteristics of Ace inhibited connection to other arts departments.