Westside Neighborhood School recently dedicated its new performing arts theater, completing a yearlong process of research, design and construction. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and student performance marked the event, during which students, parents, faculty and special guests celebrated the opening of the new educational space on the WNS campus.

The theater space includes a massive 1,100-square-foot stage, storage and backstage support areas. Brad Zacuto, head of the school, explained that, “This new theater represents a grand example of a collaborative effort to design a theater and stage that will inspire a full range of creative performing arts activities at WNS that includes dance, music and theatrical productions.

“The new theater includes a state-of-the-art sound system, theatrical lighting, a backstage and green room, new chairs for the audience and a stunning red velvet front curtain,” Zacuto continued.

This project was a collaborative design effort by the faculty, students and administrators. Middle school students in the school’s Architectural Club led by their teacher, Lorena Hong, created a 3D mock-up of the theater. A faculty committee toured local school and community theaters to study stage designs, and parents with expertise in dance, music, theater, sound engineering and construction got involved as well to help with the project.

The new theater was made possible thanks to generous fund-raisers and efforts from the entire school community. Last March, at the school’s annual gala, the WNS community came together and raised the money needed to build the stage and create a new theater.

Desiree Friedmann, Ph.D., performing arts coordinator, enthusiastically expressed excitement about how this new theater will enhance her program:
“In performing arts class, we can pretend to be anyone at anytime, in any place, and in any given situation,” Friedmann noted. “Our program fosters future collaborators, innovators, and creative artists who perform stories from long ago and can help to forge a path to a better future by creating new stories. This stunning new stage not only underlines the importance of this creative process, but it also provides a clearly defined space for these stories to be shared.”

Westside Neighborhood School is a PK-8th-grade-independent school adjacent to Playa Vista, and serves elementary and middle school students from over 50 zip codes throughout the Los Angeles, Santa Monica and South Bay communities. WNS is in its 32nd year and is predicated on the four pillars of academic excellence–character, discipline, diversity and community.

Because WNS is an independent school, it thrives on the donations and support of the community. For more information on the school, the new theater and the numerous ways to donate, visit the website at www.wnsk8.com.