Sarah Lawrence College celebrated the unveiling of the Suzanne Werner Wright Theatre in their Performing Arts Center on Friday, November 3. The former Studio Theatre has just undergone extensive renovations funded by a $1 million contribution made by Suzanne Wright, a member of the Board of Trustees and her husband, General Electric Vice Chairman and NBC President and CEO, Bob Wright.
This newly restored theatre was designed by Sarah Lawrence faculty member and award-winning set designer Edward Gianfrancesco, a founding member of the WPA Theatre, and best known for his sets of "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Steel Magnolias." Gianfrancesco has created a contemporary, flexible, theatrical space that will serve the needs of the College. In addition to the restoration, the Wrights’ gift will provide important continuing support for the students and faculty of the College’s theatre programs.
After deferring the completion of her college education until after her children were grown, Suzanne began classes at the College’s Center for Continuing Education in 1992.
In 1998, she graduated from Sarah Lawrence with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
"Through her education at Sarah Lawrence, Suzanne developed a deep appreciation for the performing arts and a strong connection to this theatre," said Bob Wright. "It is our hope that through this gift, others will gain a similar respect for the theatre and will have an opportunity to develop their talents in this dynamic new space."
Her education at Sarah Lawrence began her commitment to promote the performing arts among children and young adults. In 1998, she spearheaded a committee, through NBC, to renovate the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities auditorium in New York City. The project, which included the restoration of 900 auditorium seats, the restoration and repair of the stage front and floor and the technical replacement of sound and lighting equipment, was completed in March 1999.
According to Shirley Kaplan, director of the theatre program and Suzanne Wright’s theatre advisor and "don," Suzanne was actively involved in theatre outreach programs during her years in the theatre program. "Suzanne has an unusually generous impulse and a gift for encouraging personal theatre work," she said. "She went into the Yonkers schools and worked with students on theatre projects. She took students from Atlanta schools and community centers to the Olympics and worked with them to develop original works based on their feelings and reactions to the events."
Acclaimed performance artist and SLC faculty member Dan Hurlin ("The Shoulder," "Everyday Uses for Sight: Nos. 3 &7") inaugurated the new stage with works in progress by current students at the College.