Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Lighting issue closes Gezon Auditorium

A performer stands on the Gezon Auditorium stage.

Over the summer, the Gezon Auditorium –– located in the Spoelhof University Center –– had to be closed for all use after a failure in the lighting system. 

Lighting systems like the one in the Gezon work by connecting a control board to a dimmer system and then to the actual light fixtures. “The dimmers are actually where the power comes in and gets sent out to the light,” Sam Tuit, an event planner in Event Services and a 2021 graduate of Calvin said. “This summer the dimmers finally gave up the ghost. They broke, and because of that there are no lights in the Gezon at all!” 

The Gezon Auditorium and the Lab Theater were both built back in the 1970s and have had the same lighting system since its opening. “As far as I am aware, we were the last theater in the country still using this system from the 1970s. Everyone else had their systems replaced 10-20 years ago,” Kristen Pearson-Eno, performing arts managing director for the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Calvin Theater Company (CTC) managing director told Chimes. Calvin’s has lasted so long because of the care the university and past members of the CTC have given the space. Given the age of the systems, the CTC and others involved with the space have known that this was coming; it was just a matter of time, Tuit said. 

The CTC has been the most affected by this shutdown. They moved their fall production of “Rumors” to the Lab Theater. “Currently the hold on the space is through the end of the semester. CTC has moved all their stuff to the Lab Theater, which we are trying to limit the use of as well because it is the same system,” Tuit told Chimes

Despite the challenges, Pearson-Eno is pleased with how the team has been able to use the spaces available and is looking forward to a bright future for the CTC. “We are at this exciting crossroads where while the Gezon currently doesn’t have operational lights, we have the opportunity to not only fix the system but also upgrade it.” 

Both the Gezon Auditorium and the Lab Theater will be getting upgrades — including new dimmer systems, control systems and lighting — throughout the course of this project. Pearson-Eno told Chimes that in an effort to be more environmentally conscious in their upgrades, 90 of the current lighting setups will be retrofitted to be compatible with the new LED lights. A few more will be fully replaced to completely rid the theaters of incandescent bulbs. “It will be more energy efficient and save the university in cost over time, as well as create a very nice environment for our audience,” Pearson-Eno said.

These upgrades will bring Calvin’s theater up to the national standard in theater lighting. “A lot of Broadway theaters are currently upgrading their lighting and control system to the same system we are going to have, so our students will be able to train on our new system and potentially go on to Broadway and already know how to manipulate and work all the lights,” Pearson-Eno told Chimes

The CTC is starting its 90th season. Despite initial challenges, “Rumors” will be taking place this fall, and a student-directed, four-person musical will be performed later this winter.

“We are optimistic that as long as we can stick to our timeline and repairs to the Gezon, we will be able to reopen that space in the spring to coincide with our production of “Little Women” and the Festival of Faith and Writing,” Pearson-Eno said. 


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