BY DEVIN GAVIGAN
William “Bill” Harris has been appointed as the new director of the Sacred Heart University Community Theater. A communications and media studies adjunct professor, producer-in-residence, and member of the Sacred Heart Board of Visitors, Harris will now help welcome the reopening of Fairfield’s Community Theater.
“I have always considered since I was a kid opening an independent theatre. When the theater opportunity came up, it felt like it was in my wheelhouse in terms of managing an entrepreneurial business in operation, programming, and film and entertainment. It ticked off all the boxes, and also extends the universities educational mission, which I am a part of. It made a lot of sense for me,” said Harris.
Before Sacred Heart, Harris built a career in television with several major networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, TBS, A&E and History Channel. He later went on to start his own independent production passion project films and teach as a professor in the communications and media department.
The Sacred Heart Community Theater is expected to reopen by 2020, according to Harris. Sacred Heart’s mission is to provide a great entertainment and education venue in the heart of downtown Fairfield.
“This fits right into us continuing to grow and support the community and be contributing members of the community. I think that’s a big part of the acquisition of the theater, and certainly a big part of my programming strategy which is to satisfy and entertain the Fairfield community at large,” said Harris.
Junior Mae Archacki is a member of the Theatre Arts Program (TAP). When asked about the new Sacred Heart Theater, she said, “I am most excited to see what goes on [at the theater]. Whether it is used for speeches or media students, I think this new facility will provide a lot more growth for students. I see this as a stepping stone for Sacred Heart to grow even more and a chance for the community to see what we are capable of.”
2020 will mark the 100th anniversary for the Community Theater, according to Harris.
He said, “My hope is that we will be open within the year. I would like to celebrate that and honor the last century and look forward to the future. I am on a push to make sure that we will be open mid- to late Fall 2020.”
The renovated theater will hold around 400 seats and have a lot of new equipment. Harris explained that they will also be extending the stage to allow more room for smaller performances, as well as movies.
“It will still be a movie house, but it will be a performance space as well. To the extent that we are able to operate, there is plenty of capacity for various departments to be able to hold classes, performances and other things in the space, as well as us doing more outward-facing public events,” said Harris.
Other students, like junior Hope Lecours, brought the question of whether there will be a shuttle service available to the new theater for the student body.
“I know that the drive is about 15 minutes to the theater so my only question would be if students who don’t have cars will have a way to get there,” said Lecours.
Harris stated, however, that though they do not have any concrete answer about a shuttle service, they are currently figuring out transportation to allow students to get there for their programs and “the point of [the new theater]is for it to be accessible for students,” said Harris.
There will be upcoming events throughout Fairfield promoting the new Sacred Heart Community Theater. On Dec. 6, there will be an awareness reception in front of the theater with hot cocoa, cookies, decorations and other activities “to begin to get the sense that this theater is coming back to life,” said Harris.