Students were evacuated from Annenberg Hall Monday around 3:30 p.m. after a fire in the Tomlinson Theater. No one was injured.
A member of the technical staff was welding a portion of the set when a spark ignited a curtain, according to Charles Leone, deputy director of campus police. Workers were preparing for Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a production scheduled to open Thursday.
“The structure looks like it is fine,” Leone said. “It’s a matter of how much can be salvaged.”
The set piece that caused the fire was a 20-foot tall burlap structure hanging from the theater’s drop space. The cast and crew call it “the tornado,” and Leone said the fire spread before workers could extinguish it.
There appeared to be no structural damage to the theater, according to Leone. Most of the problems in the theater were water-related. Concetta Stewart, dean of the School of Communications and Theater, said that a pipe feeding the sprinklers burst, causing some leakage.
“The fire department will determine what is wrong with the stage and what’s below it,” Leone said.
The question on the minds of the cast, however, is what will happen to this weekend’s production. In the past, Eli Metcalf, a senior cast member, said shows canceled because of inclement weather were not made up.
“I’m feeling pretty optimistic to get in there tonight, but we could very well not get in there,” Metcalf said.
The cast of Pericles was set to rehearse in the theater Monday night, but were not allowed to re-enter the theater. As for the rest of the week, the cast and crew do not know what is going to happen.
“Sure you could look at it as a night to do your homework, but people in this play aren’t worried about homework,” Metcalf said.
But not everything is lost for the cast of Pericles, said Leone. Even though the stage was filled with water and smoke, Leone said the cleanup is the only remaining issue.
“I’ve seen the theater department do some pretty good work on cleanup,” he said.
Work crews will attempt to clean the damage caused by the fire, but according to Metcalf, rehearsal is all about progress, and Pericles is at a standstill.
“Pericles is a story about a hero. In the play, difficulties come and they overcome them,” Metcalf said. “The cast is going to ride this out together.”
Christopher Reber can be reached at email@example.com.