Historic theater to reopen next year

by Celia Carbone / Beacon Correspondent • January 18, 2017

Ambassador Theatre Group is the world's largest theater company.
Beacon Archives
Ambassador Theatre Group is the world's largest theater company.
Beacon Archives

Next year, the curtains will go up once again at Emerson’s Colonial Theatre.

Emerson and Ambassador Theatre Group established a partnership to program, renovate, and preserve the historic theater, Pelton wrote in an email to the community earlier this month.

Based in London, ATG is the world’s largest theater company and a leading international producer of live theater that owns and operates 46 venues, according to its website.

Pelton said one of the objectives of the partnership is to ensure the Colonial Theatre’s long-term viability as a performing arts space. He said the union will make Emerson’s performing arts program distinctive and unique.

“As we aspire to be the global hub for arts, communication, and liberal arts education, our new partnership with ATG will greatly enhance the experience and education of Emerson students in ways that are real, measurable, and long-lasting,” Pelton wrote.

The renovated Colonial will create a sense of place and reanimate the streetscape to celebrate emerging diversity in Boston through theater, Pelton said in an interview.

“I believe that having ATG occupy the Colonial Theatre, which sits in the center of Emerson, recenters and creates a dramatic gateway to the theater district,” Pelton said.

Melia Bensussen, chair of the performing arts department, said she told the Emerson Colonial Steering Committee that reopening the theater would add to the vitality of the college. She said Emerson’s partnership with ATG increases opportunities for students post-graduation and adds a resource to their portfolio when pursuing a job in the theater industry.

“The vision is to always prepare students for the next generation and to orient them around their intellectual pursuit,” she said. “We are training students for all aspects of the profession and to see this level of artistry as part of their education is extraordinary.”

Coupled with professors on campus, the partnership with ATG will increase the college’s visibility and professional opportunities for students, Bensussen said.

“Emerson has been able to provide students with a network of connections through the Mafia, but gaining connections beyond that can be more challenging or intimidating,” Tara Balan, sophomore performing arts major, said. “Having ATG in the Colonial Theatre gives students a chance to meet with professionals in person and the networking opportunities that come with that are amazing.”

ATG will establish a program to provide Emerson students with scholarships and mentorship opportunities to promote experiential learning through four annual fellowships, Pelton said. The theater group will also fund travel to the Edinburgh International Festival in the United Kingdom and an ATG mentorship program for two students annually.

“This unprecedented partnership between the world’s largest theater company and Emerson College will bring first-class productions to the Colonial, reanimating the downtown area across from the Boston Common and usher in a new and dynamic era in Boston arts and culture,” Pelton said.