Theater furniture is ruined by mold


Rachel Logan

Senior Erin Whyte and sophomores Muneer Al-Busaidi and Laken Burkhardt clear dehumidifiers and buckets from the studio theater before the fall play’s first rehaearsal.

Rachel Logan, Features Editor

Mold that hit the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center early this month has receded and disappeared after attention from Physical Plant and Servepro Restoration Services workers. However, Theater Department faculty lost furniture pieces to the mold, which were used in their productions.

Theater professor John Teacher said he first noticed the mold Aug. 28, the day before the department’s open house in the Black Box studio theater to bring in new actors.

“We went to pull furniture, and we noticed it on one of the drapes,” Teacher said. 

“It was on every piece we pulled.”

That night, Teacher said he notified the center’s executive director, Michael Bodolosky, who passed the information to Humanities Division chair Michael Stoneham and Physical Plant workers. 

In the meantime, Teacher said he held the open house event in the gallery outside the Black Box, and moved all classes to be held there into the basement room B02. 

“Robin Hood” auditions for fall were held in the main theater.

The next Tuesday, when actors were to show up for the first rehearsal, Teacher said he wanted to show the original 1938 “Robin Hood” film in the main theater, but, when he went to sit down before the actors arrived, he noticed what he thought was bubble gum smeared across the seats. 

“My next thought was, ‘Oh no, this place has it, too.’ Physical Plant responded almost immediately.”

Teacher said anything touched by the mold was tossed, and that he learned growing up not to mess with mold. He said props were safely stored in B02, which, despite being a basement classroom, was an untouched haven from the growing mold. 

Teacher confirmed that the center was fogged the same weekend as the Living/Learning Center. 

Last week, about a dozen dehumidifiers were still present in the center.

Teacher said all shows were back on schedule save for the department’s 24-hour Redeye event, which, although originally scheduled for Homecoming Weekend, has been shifted to January. 

Junior Laken Burkhardt, Theater Department work study and production stage manager, said she saw both worlds: what was noticeable to students and what needed to be done to fix the situation.

She said a lot of the fabric and leather covers were coated in mold, and cleaning them would’ve consisted of removing the cover and padding and having them cleaned specially. She said many pieces had not been used in a few productions, though.

“Robin Hood” is to be an outdoor-looking show, so not many furniture pieces are to be used, she said. The spring semester’s production is to be “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” another outdoorsy play, so department faculty have time to rebuild any collection they had. 

“I’m very proud of how Physical Plant (workers) acted and I’m very pleased with it,” she said.

Bodolosky said there was no lasting damage to the center or its amenities. 

“Servepro Restoration (Services of Gallatin, Tennessee) has been working closely with Facilities Management and the (center) staff to ensure that the mold has been removed, the air has been cleaned and tested and is reported safe and that the areas in question are being dehumidified,” he said.