Play Home


Memories of These Tin Walls

The Theatre Arts Department has been a staple of the liberal arts curriculum on campus for nearly a century. Part of that curriculum is the Furman University Theatre main stage season that entertains, educates, and engages thousands of students and patrons each year. We have celebrated more than 50 years of top-quality pedagogy, programming, and performances in our “temporary” home, The Playhouse.

Furman Theatre majors have made great progress as artists and people after college. Lawyers, costume designers, police officers, actors, entrepreneurs, professors, and more have emerged from these tin walls, and this building has been the launching pad for those careers. But, it was built to be temporary, and the time to invest in the future is here.

Kris McDermott, '81

Recent work: Edited Masques of Difference: Four Court Masques by Ben Jonson (Univ. of Manchester Press, 2007) and William Shakespeare: His Life and Times (Templar/Candlewick, 2010). Professor of English at Central Michigan University, teaching Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama.

Tiffany Bordelon Walsh, '01

“I use my Theatre degree Every. Single. Day. As an entrepreneur. As a wife. As a mom. As an event designer. As an actress. I was able to hold a conversation about fabric and carpentry with Harrison Ford. I’ve taught my son how to use basic and power tools. I’ve designed and redesigned houses. I’ve designed/produced/and co-starred a 2 woman show for agents and producers in LA. I’ve worked with some of the top producers in Los Angeles. I’ve worked with the Vice President of Sony. Yeah, I think my degree has slightly shaped who I am, has shaped my children’s lives, and will continue to do so until I die.”

Ardarius Blakely, '12

Recent work: Directed Top Dog/Under Dog for Beverly Arts Center. Select past acting credits include: Peter and the Starcatcher (Fighting Prawn), Henry V (Bardolph), King Lear (Edmond), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Demetrius), The Tempest (Caliban) at Theater at Monmouth; Romeo & Juliet (Paris) at Teatro Vista; Generation Gap (Aaron) at The Annoyance.

View more memories of the Playhouse

The Playhouse Today

The Playhouse at Furman University

The Furman University Playhouse is situated on campus between North Village and McAlister Auditorium.

The lobby area houses three faculty/staff offices, a Box Office counter, and two accessible restrooms.

The Main Stage performance space has 110 seats, a teaching station, a small booth with lighting and sound stations that require a step up to access, a state of the art lighting rig with low hanging position, and two cramped wing spaces. The green room, directly behind the Main Stage, has three faculty/staff offices, a plotter printer, and color copier.

Immediately behind is the Scene Shop, which has a lighting nook, paint station and sink, and several work spaces for carpentry. The Costume Shop and Dressing Rooms share an attached space where there are 4 large cutting tables, two sewing machine tables, an ironing station, a crafts station, two small restrooms, a laundry area, two 4- and 8-person dressing rooms, and two walls of storage shelving and cabinets.

The newly renovated Studio Theatre portion of the building (due to a tree falling on the structure in December 2018) has dance studio floor with mirrored walls, a small booth with lighting and sound capabilities, a Student Lounge, shelved storage space, and two faculty/staff offices. In a separate building next door, the Design Annex houses a computer lab, two additional accessible restrooms, Costume Storage, and Scenic & Properties Storage.

Renovations and additions are needed

Additions and expansions will improve the quality of the student, faculty, staff, and patron experiences:

Two buildings, one department

The Playhouse is actually two temporary facilities side by side, neither of which adhere to the design standards of the rest of Furman’s beautiful campus. The Design Annex houses a computer lab, restrooms, and storage space for set, props, and costume pieces. When moving large scenic pieces, it is still necessary to use a truck because the loading dock of the performance space is on the opposite side of the loading doors for the storage space.

Possibilities of Tomorrow

The future Furman University Playhouse will remain in its current location on campus between North Village and McAlister Auditorium.

The renovation plan has been designed by Craig Gaulden Davis in collaboration with Furman’s Facilities Services team. With inspirations from Ryman Auditorium, Tanglewood Linde Center for Music and Learning, and Furman’s existing beauty, The Playhouse renovation would create an elegant and functional teaching and performance space. There is an option to commence renovation of The Playhouse in four phases or all at once - which would save a considerable amount of money.

Phase 1

Rendering of Phase One, courtesy of Craig Gaulden Davis

Lobby Expansion, Office Suite, Expanded Dressing Rooms, and Center Corridor

The first phase of the renovation addresses immediate accessibility issues for students and patrons. This phase of the renovation creates an expanded lobby with a stand-alone box office to provide easier egress into the building and the existing Main Stage Theatre. An office suite of 4 offices and a storage space would be added on to the building while also creating the beginnings of an internal corridor from the front of the building to the back.

This initial renovation also expands the Booth for the Main Stage with ADA accessibility to the lighting and sound boards. There is an expanded Greenroom/Backstage entrance space. The Dressing Rooms are expanded with private ADA accessible bathrooms, as well as a Wet Room for dyeing and laundry. Additional office space is created in the back of the building.

Phase 2

Rendering of Phase Two, courtesy of Craig Gaulden Davis

Expanded Lobby, Box Office, and Kitchen

The second phase of the renovation plan enhances the audience experience. The expansion of the lobby continues to provide study areas for students while also addressing egress issues from the parking lot to the seating area. The box office is rebuilt in the additional lobby space in order to provide access for patrons from outside the building, as well as the usual indoor will call area. Additionally, a kitchen is added to create opportunities for hosting receptions, student gatherings, and show food preparation. Not to mention, the building gets a facelift.

Phase 3

Rendering of Phase Three, courtesy of Craig Gaulden Davis

Transforming the teaching, learning, and performance spaces

This phase of the renovation is the most dramatic in terms of look, access, and capabilities of serving our student artists, our classroom experience, and our audience experience. A new theatre space is added to the existing structure with flexible seating for up to 130 patrons, a new accessible tech gallery, a backstage corridor with covered entrances from the dressing rooms all the way to the theatre, as well as a catwalk, grid, and storage. The roof height is such that hanging positions for lighting will be much improved, and the space is flexible enough to teach the latest technologies with sound and projection design.

The existing theatre space is transformed into a green room and student lounge, a classroom space, tool room, and storage space. Additional bathrooms are created for the lobby and an additional backstage dressing room is built. The internal corridor from the front entrance of the building to the back is completed. Students and patrons with accessibility needs will have complete access to the entire building.

Phase 4

Rendering of Phase Four, courtesy of Craig Gaulden Davis

Outdoor classroom and making the two spaces whole

The final phase of the renovation ties our two buildings together with a captivating outdoor learning space. With a covered walkway from The Playhouse to the Annex, our two temporary spaces become connected with permanence. Between the two buildings an outdoor amphitheater is created where classes can meet, performances can happen, and students can enjoy the beauty of the upstate. Additionally, the front entrance to the Annex becomes ADA accessible.

Campaign for the Future

Wouldn't you like to "come home" to a renovated Playhouse?

Furman Theatre Arts is seeking $6 to 10 million in support of renovations and the possible expansion of the current Playhouse theatre facility. Home to Furman's Main Stage and most Theatre & Dance classes, The Playhouse is the hub of the Theatre Arts Department at Furman. Despite remaining relatively unchanged for decades, it has supported hundreds of Theatre Arts majors through Furman, and countless other students who participate on stage, behind-the-scenes, and in the audience.

We are seeking donors to catalyze this project with a substantial gift, and if you might be that person, please reach out to Maegan McNerney Azar, Department Chair and Shon Herrick, Associate Vice President for Development. Maegan can be reached at or at (864) 294-2127. Shon can be reached at or at (864) 294-3436. Naming opportunities are available.

Donations of any amount are always welcome to our Theatre Department Building Fund started by John T. Poole and Sarah Joan Moyer-Poole. Gifts of all amounts are appreciated and needed for this project. The project will commence once we have received leadership commitments enabling the transformation of our space.