Oldest theater presents improv opportunities

In the back of the Ferst Theater is a small black box theater where creativity thrives and experimentation is welcome. This is the home of Drama Tech, the oldest continuously running theater in Atlanta.

Drama Tech (DT), which has been active since 1947, is a student run organization that brings the opportunity to experience theater to all Tech students, regardless of major.

“There are people here from every background,” said Douglas Abrams, DT stage manager and a fourth-year CM major.

“None of us are theater majors. This is a creative outlet for us. We have all of this creative energy we can’t put into book based work that we save for Drama Tech,” said Solace Collestan, DT technician and third-year CS major.

There are many things that set DT apart from other theaters.

“Drama Tech has built a reputation of being a forward thinking theater eager to try new approaches while teaching its members about all aspects of theater, production and business,” Collestan said.

“On top of being able to put on semiprofessional shows, we are still a teaching theater and we learn a lot from each other,” Abrams said. ”We have a good mix of novices and experience,” said Melinda Ellington, DT President and fifth-year INTA major.

Once DT members gain more experience, they become teachers. They look for people who want to learn, who want to take a chance and do something new. Aside from the inviting atmosphere, DT is proud of its originality that comes from being a theater in an engineering school.

“We pull off a lot of technical aspects with moving sets, surround sound and having rain on stage,” said Alyssa Kuncaitis, DT secretary and a second-year CS major.

“There have been aspects of the show we haven’t known how to execute when we decided to do it. For Rent, there are no curtains in the entire black box. We’re trying to do something different by having no backstage and using the entire stage as is,” Ellington said.

Apart from equipping its members with new skills, DT also offers a place for its members to relax during the hectic week. “The fact that Drama Tech is in the middle of campus is great,” said John Quinn, Member at Large of DT and a first-year INTA major.

Many members live off-campus, so the green room is their home away from home.

“One of our inside jokes is that we have a toaster in every show. We’ve had it as a prop, hanging from the ceiling and painted into a wall,” Ellington said.

“The toaster joke started because one of the directors had a random chandelier of objects with a toaster in it.  It became a thing that every DT show had to include a toaster,” Abrams said.

Other than the omnipresent toaster, DT has created a tradition of decorating a brick in the stairwell every time a show is completed.

“The brick is our way of leaving our mark on history. You’re able to point and say ‘this is how many shows I’ve been in,” Ellington said.  With rehearsal for Rent in progress and plans for an Alfred Hitchcock play in the summer, DT is an exciting organization to be a part of.