Lisa Condit spoke with Olivia Scanlon, one of the newest members of The Hanover Theatre team and managing director of our in-the-works BrickBox Theater at the Jean McDonough Arts Center. Read on for highlights from the interview or listen to the full interview below, then tune in to WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Lisa: Not everyone has met you yet, could you give us a quick intro of who you are and what brought you to Worcester?
Olivia: I moved here about a year and a half ago from Cambridge with my wife, Rachel. I was the producing artistic director of a small theatre company that I founded. As that company was reaching its organic conclusion, Rachel and I got married. She is a Clarke University alumni and works out here in central Massachusetts, and it made sense to consider moving to Worcester, and low and behold there was this perfect job here that I was a good fit for. Everything worked out wonderfully, and I have been working at The Hanover Theatre since September of 2019.
Lisa: Tell us a little bit about what got you excited about Worcester.
Olivia: When I was living in Cambridge and my then fiancé was living in Clinton, I would take the train to Union Station and she would pick me up and we would drive through the canal district and through Kelley Square to get back onto the highway.
Every time we drove through I was like, “Worcester is so cool!”
Lisa: Some people might not be familiar with the term BrickBox because we kind of created that term. Originally, the BrickBox was referred to as a black box theater.
Olivia: Black box theaters are usually just a big black cube that can be used in a more flexible way than a bigger theatre like The Hanover Theatre where the seats and stage are always where they are and the orientation of the audience to the stage is always the same. A black box tends to be smaller. Ours will have a maximum of about 290 seats, and the space is used a bit differently. It lends itself to a different kind of theatrical experience, not better or worse, just very different. That’s what’s so fun about having the big Hanover Theatre and the BrickBox right around the corner.
It functions just like a black box, but we’ve retained all of the industrial character of the space, which includes the exposed brick of all four walls.
Lisa: What kind of events do you see happening at the BrickBox?
Olivia: The BrickBox and its sister space, the Worcester PopUp, make up what is now called the Jean McDonough Arts Center. The Jean McDonough is an initiative of the Worcester Cultural Coalition, and they engaged The Hanover Theatre to help operate The BrickBox Theater. One of the goals of the BrickBox is to provide smaller performance space to all members of the Worcester Culture Coalition who might want to put on work there.
Lisa: The theatre district has really come alive, and, up until now, there was only one theatre in the theatre district in Worcester.
Olivia: Another goal is to manifest a professional regional theatre presence. We’re talking to other theatre-producing organizations in the state to bring some of their work here. The Hanover Theatre is pioneering our own line of programming that we’re calling THT Rep. It will be homegrown professional theatre presented in the BrickBox.
Lisa: Many of our listeners may already know that we recently opened a youth acting company.
Our conservatory has really grown to the number of families and students who participate and we want to make sure those students have a place to perform that isn’t as large as The Hanover Theatre.
A smaller venue makes a lot of sense, especially for plays. People have been talking about them because, as a community, we miss that smaller venue to watch original works or more dramatic plays.
Olivia: Absolutely. Even here at The Hanover Theatre, when we do have theatrical performances, they tend to be musicals. They are wonderful, but the goal is to have all of the offerings all right here in the theatre district. The BrickBox will really help with that.