Posting Date: March 26, 2012

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Kennesaw State honors $250,000 donation
Anonymous donors name The Onyx Theater

For media inquiries: Cheryl Anderson Brown, Director of Public Relations,
770-499-3417 or


(Above) John Gentile and Joseph Meeks unveil

the name of The Onyx Theater.

(Below) The cast and crew of the naming celebration.


Photos by Tracie L. Hinnant

KENNESAW, Ga.—On March 25, officials at Kennesaw State University unveiled the name of its newest performance space: The Onyx Theater. The theater's name was selected from a list presented by the faculty to anonymous donors who have made a $250,000 contribution to support the KSU Department of Theatre, Performance Studies and Dance.

"This is another significant milestone for the arts at Kennesaw State. We are deeply grateful to the donors for their generous support," said Joseph Meeks, dean of the College of the Arts. "In the last five years, donors like these have partnered with us to create numerous new scholarships, to open a concert hall, an art gallery, and this theater. The long-term benefits of this support cannot be overstated. We are able to attract the best faculty and recruit talented and dedicated students."

Located in the Wilson Annex, The Onyx Theater opened in the fall of 2009. It was previously known as the Black Box Theater, which indicates a type of theater that provides flexibility for both staging and seating. With black walls, ceilings and floors, the space can be reconfigured to meet the specific artistic goals of each production it presents.

The name The Onyx Theater was suggested "to dignify the space by associating its blackness with a gemstone, a transformation into that which is precious," according to John Gentile, professor and chair of the department, who proposed the name. The donors ultimately selected it because, "The Onyx Theater is a space for transforming students into actors whose talents shine like a gemstone."

The name was revealed during a special performance of scenes from six of the productions that have been presented by the department this academic year. Excerpts were drawn from Jean Cocteau's surrealist "The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party," the National Endowment for the Arts-supported production of "Splittin' the Raft," and an original KSU adaptation of Grimm's fairytales, among others.

In an essay, the anonymous donors stated that "it is our wish to help the faculty and staff in the Department of Theatre, Performance Studies and Dance deliver the best possible educational opportunity to their students so that upon graduation they might be in the best possible position to have a successful career in the theater." The donors also said that they hope their gift inspires others to support the arts at Kennesaw State University.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of more than 24,100 students from 142 countries.

The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts departments.


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The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University supports, defends and promotes academic freedom in artistic expression, as outlined by the American Association of University Professors, and diversity of all kinds as outlined by the university's Human Relations Position Statement.

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