If your house is like mine, you’ve done some work on it.

My house is about 45 years old, so the work has included replacing things like the stove and the refrigerator. The roof is newer than the house as is some of the plumbing. Things inside are certainly younger than the house: the TV, the telephone, the toilets. We have a microwave and a computer that weren’t there when it was built.

Popejoy Hall is a lot like our houses. It’s 45 years old. It’s been remodeled a few times, once extensively. There’s equipment in it now that wasn’t there when it was built. Just like the updates in our houses, those improvements cost money.

The difference is that Popejoy can’t just put it on the credit card. Moreover, the income from tickets sold only cover shows and operational costs. So we have a growing list of improvements waiting for the monetary resources to cover the costs.

That list of improvements includes some interesting things. One is to replace the lighting computer. When Popejoy was built, computer-run lighting didn’t exist. Now theatrical lights have built-in computers that talk to other computers that control them. That’s if the equipment is up to date. Ours isn’t.

I tend to replace my computer every three or four years just to make sure it will do what I want it to do. Even if you stretch your computer’s life to five or six years, Popejoy’s lighting computer is older than that. It’s 13 years old. That’s older than Windows XP.

I’m sure the refrigerator in my house is more efficient than the refrigerator originally furnished. I know my light bulbs are. Popejoy’s stage lights are not very efficient. The latest technology in stage lighting instruments uses LEDs instead of bulbs. If we had LED lights, they would run cooler and more efficiently than bulb-based instruments. Right now, if we want to change the color of the light coming out of our instruments, we have to put a filter in front of the lens. To have a second light with a different color focused on the same spot on stage requires a second instrument. An LED light could replace both those lights because you can change the color of the light it emits with computer commands.

I mentioned earlier that all the toilets in my house have been replaced. The ones in Popejoy's dressing rooms are still original equipment as are the sinks and showers. It takes a lot of maintenance to keep them all working. But there’s no money, no 90-days-same-as-cash deal we can use to replace them.

The rigging system that moves scenery in and out is twice as old as industry standards. Our curtains are 15 years old and getting threadbare. Our dressing tables don’t provide enough room for today’s performers who often play two or three characters in the same show and need wigs for them all.

Clearly the Popejoy job jar is full, but the piggy bank is not.

This is not an uncommon circumstance. Every theater in this city could stand some upgrades and they all suffer from the same problem: ticket revenues don’t stretch to cover the ways to make our theaters better, brighter, safer and more welcoming.

If you have any way of supporting any local theater for any improvement to its facility, you might even get your name attached to it. Kind of like when you scratched your name in the fresh cement after you replaced your sidewalk, right?

Terry S. Davis

Popejoy Hall

Photo by ww_whist


Views: 32

Comment by Djon Terry on July 7, 2011 at 8:35am

This household prefers local live little theatre.


Why? Give me a break! Why sit in a megaspace and watch a megashow, trucked here from Planet X?  If we want Planet X we go there. There's too much wonderful new material in Albuquerque to waste time and money on road-show reruns, no matter how well they're mounted.


We want local.


Local means fun: audience intimacy, evident excitement, risk ( = art), performers we get to know in multiple roles and performances.  As well there's the age issue: at 67 I'm a youth at Popejoy. I want a lot of enthusiastic younger people around me, as well as enthusiastic older people (as at Outpost Performance Space) not just someone's obligatory grandkids. 


Albuquerque has many superb little theatres, not to mention local writers, directors, and performers. Albuquerque has armies of her own musicians (especially in jazz and dismisunderappreciated classical), great venues for jazz and "far-out" non-pop music, especially including Kosmos and Low Spirits and places I've barely heard of but would attend before Popejoy.


We only have so many evenings and so many dollars to invest in live performances. We choose to invest those evenings and dollars in our community.


I have no suggestions for Popejoy's use. 


I've attended shows and concerts at Popejoy, but only one justified the space. It was more than a dozen years ago and wasn't an Glossy Overblown Broadway Confection. It was Porgy and Bess.





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