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Creating a Permanent Home for Student Performing Arts at Penn

Julie Beren and Marc Platt

Marc E. Platt, C ’79, knows how to foster creativity. As an executive at Orion, TriStar and Universal Pictures, he helped bring Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia and Jerry Maguire to the screen, before forming his own company and producing hits like Legally Blonde and Broadway’s Wicked.

To cultivate the next generation of Penn performers and artists, he and his wife, Julie Beren Platt, C ’79, are making a substantial leadership gift to create a home for student performing arts. When construction is finished next August, the Platt Student Performing Arts House will feature nearly 13,000 square feet of office, rehearsal and performance space in the lower level of Stouffer College House for some 1,200 music, dance, comedy, spoken word and theater aficionados.

For Mr. Platt, the gift is a tribute to the strong artistic foundation he received while honing his theater and musical crafts as an undergraduate.

“Penn’s theater and music programs had a profound impact on our lives, not only in what we learned, but also in the fun we had and the friendships we made,” he said. “The programs gave us the invaluable experience of being part of a team–one where people share creative ideas and pool their talents to bring forth a full production that reflects the best of everyone’s gifts.”

The new house will serve as the center of operations for the Office of Student Performing Arts member organizations of the Performing Arts Council. Currently, PAC represents 46 student-run performance organizations and occupies five administrative offices across campus.  The house will centralize office and rehearsal space and offer additional resources for student performance and training operations.

“Given the overwhelming popularity of performing arts at Penn that has only expanded over the years, there is an even greater need now for a performing arts house that serves as a showcase for the talents of today’s students who endeavor to pursue their art professionally,” Mr. Platt said. “Having spent more than two decades in a film, television and theater career, I can attest to the enormous benefit this experience will provide Penn’s performing arts students, as well as the Penn community who will have the opportunity to enjoy their work as an audience.”

The new Platt Student Performing Arts House will provide: a band rehearsal room, office and storage space; a dance rehearsal room with sprung floor, mirrors and sound system; a musical theater rehearsal room with sprung floor, mirrors, piano and sound system; a theater rehearsal room; two music rehearsal rooms with pianos; six administrative and student offices; a bank of computers with set, lighting, sound and music composition software; a cabaret stage with lights and sound; and a comfortable lounge and resource area.

Much like the Kelly Writers House and Civic House on which it was modeled, the Platt Student Performing Arts House will include a professional artist-in-residence series, a community service arts-in-residence program and expanded curricular and College House collaborative activities.

“The success of similar endeavors at Penn, such as the Kelly Writers House and the Civic House, have proved what an enormous success the University’s arts programs are when given a centralized, focused forum,” Mrs. Platt said. “We’re fortunate to be able to provide Penn’s student body with this creative and academic opportunity.”



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 4, September 20, 2005


September 20, 2005
Volume 52 Number 4


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