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The Rao Theater at FMCC: Everything Old is New Again

Posted: September 16, 2019 — Fulton Montgomery Community College strives to lead our area in cultural and intellectual enrichment.  Over many years, the college has been known for its commitment to theatrical productions on campus, producing all manner of classic and contemporary plays and musicals.  Theater is alive and well at the college, providing a way for people of all ages, both students and community members, to take part.  This summer, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Govind Rao, FMCC’s theater was renovated and transformed into a state-of-the-art production venue.

In 1998, the college built its Communication and Visual Art Building, the centerpiece of which is a 200 seat theater.  Over these last 21 years, the theater has served as a performance space for college and community- sponsored productions, as well serving as a teaching facility for courses in acting, directing and stagecraft.  It is also a comfortable and accessible setting for visiting lecturers and performers.

Walking into the Rao Theater, as it will now be known, you will immediately notice the physical changes:  New seats, new carpeting, new curtains.  There has also been a complete technology upgrade.  The sound, lighting, and projection systems now all feature industry standard digital equipment.  Students studying in FM’s new Entertainment Technology program are now able to be trained on the tools that they will be eventually be using in the field.

On Wednesday, November 20 from 5-7 p.m., the College will be hosting a “Business After Hours” event in the Rao Theater in partnership with the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.  The Perrella Art Gallery will also be open that evening.

Coming in December, the Rao Theater will be presenting “33 Variations” by Moises Kaufman, one of the America’s great contemporary playwrights.  In this play, the action flashes back and forth between the early 1800s, where Ludwig Van Beethoven is struggling with his declining hearing, and the present day, where a musicologist is trying to figure out the details of Beethoven’s composition process.  It is a play that mixes music, spoken language, and visual imagery in a unique way, and is a great way to show off what the Rao Theater can offer. “33 Variations” will be presented on December 6 and 7 at 8:00pm and December 8 at 2:00pm.

Thornton Wilder, the author of such classic plays as “Our Town” and “The Skin of Our Teeth” once said: “I regard the theater as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”  This was true when Wilder said it, and it’s still true today.  The Rao Theater allows students and the community to come together in a space and do what theater has always done, but at the same time meet the needs and expectations of the modern world of technology.  Everything old is new again as we embark on a new school year, a new decade, and a new era for theater at Fulton Montgomery Community College.

This article was written by Jason Radalin, Assistant Professor at FM.

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