The University Record, May 22, 2000

Miller Theater to be housed in Walgreen Drama Center

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

A generous donation by alumnus Charles Walgreen has made possible the construction of the Walgreen Drama Center. The Center will house the Arthur Miller Theater and several smaller student repertory theaters.

This gift of $5 million, combined with a previous gift from Walgreen in the same amount, will support the construction of the new theater complex to be located on Central Campus adjacent to the existing Power Center for the Performing Arts. The proposed construction of the Center was approved by the Regents in their meeting last week.

A 600-seat theater in the Center will bear Miller’s name, honoring the noted playwright and alumnus. Naming a theater for the artist known for such works as The Crucible and Death of a Salesman will remind students “that they might find their talent, whatever it might be,” said President Lee C. Bollinger. Bollinger has worked toward the establishment of such a center and an Arthur Miller theater since his inauguration. “This is a community that loves the word, that loves performance,” Bollinger said. “This is vital to what we are as a community and as an institution.”

Enthusiasm for the Center and the Arthur Miller Theater has spread across the U-M community, prompting Kenneth Fischer, president of the University Musical Society (UMS) and a member of the Arthur Miller Theater Advisory Committee, to praise the partnership between the University and the Society.

“We are excited to be a part of this partnership that will provide much-needed performance space,” Fischer said. “And that all of this is coming together just as the UMS is launching its first-ever International Theater Series only adds to the opportunities that will be available to U-M students and residents of southeast Michigan.

“This is a dynamic campus for arts and culture that has been hard-pressed for space for some time. This additional performance space makes it possible for UMS and the University, for example, to be able to build a long-term relationship with a company of the quality of the Royal Shakespeare Company, whose first multi-week residency will take place in March 2001.”

“This is a remarkable opportunity for U-M,” said Enoch Brater, another member of the Advisory Committee and professor of English. “This will put us on the international artistic map.”

Walgreen’s gift for the Drama Center continues a tradition he and his family established as active contributors to U-M. Contributions by the family have included professorships in the College of Pharmacy, LS&A and the School of Education. Additional gifts have supported endowed scholarships, facilities and programs in pharmacy and music.

Walgreen received a degree from the College of Pharmacy in 1938, an honorary master of science degree in 1951, and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 1992.

The approximate cost for the Drama Center is estimated to be $18 million. An architect is yet to be selected. Other gifts are being sought to pay for the remaining cost of the facility. The project is expected to take at least two years to complete and will enhance U-M’s performing arts corridor that includes Hill Auditorium, Rackham Auditorium, the Mendelssohn Theatre and the Power Center.

In honor of Arthur Miller’s 85th birthday, the University will host the “Arthur Miller International Symposium: Arthur Miller’s American Theater and Culture in a Century of Change” Oct. 26–29. The playwright will present the keynote address Oct. 26.

For additional information about the symposium, contact Brater by phone, (734) 764-6330, via e-mail to enochb@umich.edu or by fax, (734) 763-3128.