"The Little Commons"
The Little Center’s beginnings were humble. It's first campus iteration couldn’t have had less to do with theatre or performing arts - there are quite a few alumnus who remember the building fondly as the old Dana Commons, or “Little Commons,” and school cafeteria. The blackbox stage we know today was once full of roundtables and lunches rather than actors and props.
Cafeteria to Blackbox
In 1976, Dana Commons moved across campus, and alongside the creation of a Clark University Theatre Dept. a decade earlier came the Little Center. Over time, it’s come to be the home of two of CUPS’ most comfortable venues for performing - its mainstage blackbox, the Michelson Theater, and the Experimental Theater on the second level - and both ourselves and the Theatre Dept. have used these spaces for over five decades of performances.
In addition to regular mainstage productions, devised pieces, and iterations of the New Play Festival, over the years, the Little Center has housed dozens of new play readings by undergraduate writers, improv shows from the Peapod Squad and Shenanigans!, and beautiful performances from the Dance Society and visiting guests artists.
Saying Goodbye to the Little Center:
55 Years of Theatre, Improv, and Performing Arts
April brings what would’ve been the opening night of The School for Lies, written by David Ives and directed by Andrew Child. Not only would this performance mark the end of our 2019-20 season, but it would’ve been the last scripted performance in Clark University’s Little Center prior to its closure on May 3rd for extensive renovations. Read on to learn more about the rich history of our favorite campus building, and how you can participate in its honorarium.
The Michelson Theater’s namesake honors Goldie Michelson, the late Clark alum that was, at one point in time, the oldest human being alive. The entire existence of Clark University outliving her by just 15 years, Goldie was a stage artist and one of Worcester’s brightest theatre educators, constantly performing onstage, directing shows at her own home, and teaching young people in the city to embrace performance as a critical means of self-expression.
CUPS is grateful and humbled to have produced countless shows on a stage named such a talented and passionate Clark grad, and we hope we’ve made her proud.
Curtain Call, For Now
May 3rd was originally thought to be our last day with the Little Center before extensive renovations forced its closure until August 2021 (renovations made possible by generous funding from the late, great Goldie Michelson), though we are uncertain of the status of when construction will begin due to the ongoing pandemic. Regardless of what happens, the Little Center will always be a hub of performing arts on Clark’s campus and a home for dozens of student artists and lovers of theatre alike. We are heartbroken to lose it, as we are sure you are as well.
Little Center Stories:
Share your fondest memories with us!
In honor of our favorite campus building, we invite Clark students and alumni to submit brief testaments of their favorite shows and events that they have either participated in or attended during our 55 years with the Little Center. Be it a play produced by CUPS, an improv performance, a cabaret, a course you took one semester; any and all submissions are welcome, anonymous or otherwise!
CUPS' 24-Hour Playfest will always be one of my best campus memories. Creating theatre with a time limit and seeing everyone get so excited about is exhilerating!