Student performances showcased at opening celebration for L.R. Wilson Hall

October 31, 2017

McMaster’s new home of the liberal arts, L.R. Wilson Hall, was brought to life last night with a full-scale production incorporating artistic and cultural performances, experiential learning and the work of students, alumni, faculty and staff.

The celebration ceremony held in the building’s leading edge concert hall was essentially a “living lab” showcasing the skills of more than a dozen students in performance and others who were working production backstage.

Participating in the building’s official opening ceremonies were students in the string quartet from the McMaster Chamber Orchestra course, an opera performance by alumnus and tenor Joel Ricci ’09, and a theatre performance excerpted from the upcoming major student production of Women and Servants by playwright Lope de Vega. Directed by School of the Arts assistant professor Peter Cockett, the drama segment, set in 17th century Madrid, featured three student actors. (Performances begin Nov. 9 and run through to Nov. 18.)

Adrian and Ascension Harjo, a father and son performance team from Six Nations presented Feathers N Fringe.

Behind the scenes, a student production team made up of technicians and a voiceover artist employed the skills learned in the Theatre and Film Studies - Organizing Performance Environments course taught by Patrick Brennan.

McMaster Students Union president Chukky Ibe, ’17, who is also a poet and playwright, performed a spoken word piece called Astronaut and thanked benefactor L.R. Wilson and the Ontario government on behalf of students.

“It’s inspiring to know that so many people and organizations are willing to invest so much in giving generations of Mac students better opportunities to excel and lead in creating a Brighter World,” Ibe said.

L.R. Wilson Hall, which opened for classes in 2016 and was officially celebrated Monday, is a light, spacious, global-quality home for the social sciences and humanities at McMaster. It was designed to foster creativity and the vitality of the contemporary liberal arts.

Humanities dean Ken Cruikshank noted the last time the McMaster community celebrated the opening of a new building dedicated to the liberal arts was 46 years ago with the opening of what is now known as Kenneth Taylor Hall.

The modern L.R. Wilson Hall will “allow McMaster to maintain and even advance its high standing in Canada and internationally by providing the kind of tools we never even imagined we would need in 1971,” he said.

Social Sciences dean Jerry Hurley said students love the new building and use it as “their lounge, their living room, their office and their coffee house.”

It is also an important research facility, he noted.

“Co-locating more than a dozen multidisciplinary Humanities and Social Sciences research centres and institutes here has given us the opportunity and inspiration to upgrade their facilities and create a critical mass of investigation and innovation that is already paying dividends,” Hurley said.