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Vanderbilt University - Neely Auditorium

Vanderbilt University - Neely Auditorium



A prominant fixture on Alumni Lawn, Neely Auditorium is home to Vanderbilt’s Department of Theatre and its student producing organization, Vanderbilt University Theatre. Neely was built in 1925 as a campus chapel and central meeting hall. Aisles of pews lined the original space, providing seating for chapel service, courses in Western Civilization, and commencement ceremonies. One of the original pews now lives in Neely’s lobby, a reminder of the building’s history.

But once inside, today’s students find a modern performance space that serves a classroom during the day, a rehearsal space at night, and a performance venue once we open our shows. Architects gutted the hall in 1976 and designed an open, black box theater. The flexibility of Neely Auditorium is its strength; as a large space with movable seating risers, Neely offers designers a range of options for stage arrangement. We can stage an Elizabethan comedy in the traditional three-sided thrust arrangement of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or stage it arena style with spectators on all sides. We can surround the audience with spectacle or minimize scenery to the barest essentials, letting the actors define the space. Each performance features a new arrangement, helping students explore the variables of theatrical space as they also learn to act, construct scenery, design lighting, manage rehearsals, and produce performance for a public audience.

Set construction takes place in the shop adjacent to the stage; dres

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Vanderbilt University - Neely Auditorium

2301 Vanderbilt Place, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235


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