Daily Press (Sunday)

W&M alumna Glenn Close helps dedicate new Arts Quarter

Theater named in actor’s honor in renovated hall

- By Sian Wilkerson Sian Wilkerson, 757-342-6616, sian .wilkerson@pilotonlin­e.com

WILLIAMSBU­RG — William & Mary’s Homecoming and Reunion Weekend kicked off with a bang as actor Glenn Close returned to her alma mater for the dedication of the school’s new Arts Quarter.

On Thursday, Close and her dog, Sir Pippin of Beanfield — otherwise known as Pip — took the stage in front of a packed house in the newly renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. The university honored Close, who graduated in 1974, by naming the building’s 492-seat main stage theater the Glenn Close Theatre.

William & Mary President Katherine Rowe called Close “William & Mary royalty,” emphasizin­g how proud the university is to claim her as one of its own. There will be a plaque lauding Close’s many career accomplish­ments added to the theater, which already has Close’s name emblazoned across the top of the entrance.

Upon taking the stage, Close stood in the center, spreading her arms wide and reveling in the moment.

“My heart is very full today,” she said.

As Close spoke, Pip the dog worked the stage like

a true profession­al, lying behind Close’s podium for part of her speech before heading over to check out the front of the stage, where he was greeted by a fan.

“He’s very gracious,” Close said as Pip stretched out near front center stage.

During her speech, Close reminisced about her years at William & Mary. She said she had arrived in Williamsbu­rg at the age of 22 with nothing in her toolkit except the desire to be educated and to be an actor.

Her first show at William & Mary was “Twelfth Night,” which she said is when her new life began.

As she spoke, Close began to get emotional, describing how 49 years later, she was back in her “first true community.” The theater building was her world, she said, and a place that looked at her as “a whole human being.”

Now, in a newly renovated space, Close said that “everyone has a story which is important and worthy of our

attention.” Through theater and the arts, she said, “let us laugh together, wail together, let us stay connected and informed and let it begin here, as it did for me, for generation­s.”

The school’s new Arts Quarter includes Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall, a new music building and Andrews Hall, the home of the school’s department of art and art history and the Andrews Gallery. In fall 2024, the Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Arts, home to the

expanded and renovated Muscarelle Museum of Art, is set to open in the same area of campus.

The project began in 2017 with off-site and swing space constructi­on, with new constructi­on starting in November 2021. Over the years, it met a handful of delays but has now finally come to life.

Rowe, William & Mary Rector Charles Poston, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Suzanne Raitt and senior Karino Gibson spoke during the ceremony, which also included performanc­es by the Orchesis Modern Dance Co. and members of the William & Mary Wind Ensemble.

Throughout Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, Close will play a big role, having served as grand marshal at Friday’s Homecoming parade and speaking with Rowe during the Presidenti­al Conversati­on Saturday morning.

During their conversati­on, Rowe and Close will talk about Close’s career as well as exploring the role performing arts play in the student experience and how the arts can guide people to better understand and navigate the world.

During her remarks Thursday, Rowe welcomed the crowd to the “wonderful building that we have been waiting for for so long” and spoke about the power of the arts to bring human beings together.

Raitt echoed that idea in her comments, describing how the new and renovated buildings demonstrat­e the importance of arts not just to the community, but to what it means to be human.

“Artistic creativity is what makes us fully human,” she said. “The arts have power nothing else has in this world.”

 ?? JIM AGNEW/FREELANCE ?? Glenn Close acknowledg­es the crowd at the dedication of the renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and new music building at William & Mary on Thursday.
JIM AGNEW/FREELANCE Glenn Close acknowledg­es the crowd at the dedication of the renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and new music building at William & Mary on Thursday.

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