Editor’s Notebook: Recital hall needs update

KEVIN VOGEL | Arts Etc. Editor IMG_0706

Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall has been many things in its time.

Since 2004, it has been a small venue for Jordan College of the Arts performances and visiting lecturers for programs like the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.

Before that it was Sweeney Chapel, once part of Butler University’s School of Religion—now Christian Theological Seminary.

Sweeney Chapel was the location of more than a few weddings, with receptions often held in the garden house in Holcolmb Gardens according to Butler’s list of “Named Spaces.”

But what the Garden House has, Eidson-Duckwall is lacking—easily accessed restrooms.

For those not familiar with the space, visitors to Eidson-Duckwall  who need to relieve themselves before or during a performance have to use restrooms either on the basement floor through the Ford Salon or in a hallway between the recital hall and Robertson Hall.

While the physical distance between the audience and the hallway restroom is not that small as-the-crow-flies, it does make for an awkward situation before the house doors open and during performances.

Before the house opens—when the audience is invited to take their seats—performers are often rehearsing on stage.

Audience members who wish to use the restroom and don’t know about the restrooms through the Ford Salon must interrupt this rehearsal and walk all the way up to the stage, shoes squeaking and often with sheepish looks on their faces.

During a performance, in addition to performers watching you walk all the way down the aisle, you have up to 139 audience members watching you, too.

Now, adding a first-level restroom to the lobby might be too much to ask for in the next year, but it should certainly be on the horizon for Jordan College of the Arts administrators.

In the meantime, signage that limits embarrassment and inconvenience for audience members and performers alike by more easily laying out the path to the basement restrooms from the lobby would, I believe, be much appreciated by visiting audience members.

A perhaps equally-expensive but more pressing concern for the recital hall is that there is no way to control the hall’s temperature from inside the recital hall wing of Robertson Hall.

In a space redesigned to host musical performances, I am not sure how that egregious lack of foresight slipped unnoticed more than 10 years ago.

Temperature affects sound drastically, and it affects instruments even more so.

When musicians play or sing in a place that is very cold or very warm, they cannot perform at their best.

Sometimes it even puts their instruments in danger of cracks or other damage.

I’ve both seen and been a member of audiences at Eidson-Duckwall that are literally squirming in discomfort throughout entire recitals because it is either freezing cold or stiflingly hot.

To be fair, the temperature is relatively consistent during most recitals.

But running a recital hall that has no temperature control is irresponsible and inconsiderate, and I am surprised that nothing has been done to fix this situation in the 10 years since it opened.

With a dean that is focused on improving the performance venues on campus and the quality of those performances, I hope these issues are addressed sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, if you see a recital at Eidson-Duckwell this semester, use the restroom before you leave home and wear lots of layers that can be easily removed if needed.