Fremont theater construction

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey group

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey group

Isaac Tiscareno, Alum

The Shannon Theater, an iconic location at Fremont High School, is getting a long-awaited remodel.

Construction on this project started in June 2020 and is scheduled to finish by January 2022 by current estimates. This was part of a larger project to remodel the FHS main building, the most recognizable building at FHS which was built in 1926. This entire project was allowed by a school bond measure that passed in 2018, allowing the FUHSD to incur debt while conducting large-scale construction.

The start of the construction process unexpectedly coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic which meant that students were already off-campus and drama were already planning to do their productions in an online format.

Online theater was all that was available with school shut down, but it had a lot of limitations for students.

“It’s really difficult to do theater online,” FHS junior and Advanced Drama student Nell Erez said. “We had to try to use green screens, to plug in microphones to our laptops at home. I personally had a lot of technical issues trying to record and film, and overall it’s much more difficult to act in front of a computer by yourself.”

But since school opened back up this year the drama class is finding creative ways to put on in-person productions without a theater.

“This year, instead of doing like a full fall production, we’re doing a 30 minute Romeo and Juliet, to perform for some of our literature and writing classes, and we’re doing a 30 minute Hamlet to perform for some of the senior story and style classes,” FHS theater teacher Tanya Misfedlt said.

This works as a quick introduction to Shakespeare’s classics performed live for students who would otherwise only be reading them, as well as good practice for drama students waiting for full-scale productions once the construction is finished.

Although it served FHS well for decades, the Shannon theater before construction was not without its challenges. One of the biggest issues was no crossover space, and the only way to get from stage left to stage right was to either squeeze behind scenery or walk around the building. The layout of the drama classroom in relation to the theater was also an issue.

“The theater classroom was practically all the way out on Sunnyvale Saratoga Avenue, so having to run to the shop all the way at the back of the theater was really really spread out, which made it difficult for supervising large numbers of students working in different places all at the same time,” Misfeldt said.

The new theater will not only have a crossover space it will also move the theater classroom right next to the stage. The new theater classroom is what can be seen being built right next to the cafeteria.

Another thing theater students are looking forward to is the addition of up-to-date technology in the theater, which lets theater students have experience with the type of equipment they might encounter if they pursue acting or stagecraft as a career.

“We’re getting all new lighting systems, we’re switching over from conventional lights to LED lights, which give a lot of really cool opportunities for us to learn a new lighting system, and to play with some new toys, new sound equipment, just new everything basically,” Misfeldt said.