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UNCSA History

Facts and information about the history of the UNCSA campus and programs.

Time Capsule #17

March 8, 2013

The Bucky Fuller Geodesic Dome Theatre, 1972 – 1976

During the summer of 1972, renovations began on the Drama Theatre (now deMille Theatre) and the auditorium in the main building (now Crawford Hall). A small interim theatre was constructed for Drama productions by D & P students under the direction of Mike Bynum, instructor in stagecraft and technical production. The department chose a design by American architect, Buckminster Fuller, developed while Fuller was teaching and directing the Summer Institute at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Fuller’s geodesic dome, described by the Winston Salem Journal as “looking like an overgrown igloo,” (8/25/72, p. A1) was composed of materials in the shape of triangles, pentagons, and hexagons which placed their strength upon each other like the keystone in an arch. The overriding principle being the “utilization of gravity rather than the opposition to it” ( 

Black and white photograph of exterior view of Geodesic Dome. A person can be seen inside.
(Exterior view of Geodesic Dome, circa 1976. Photograph by William Beck.
Photograph Collection, University Archives, University of North Carolina School of the Arts.)

Black and white photograph of people constructing the Geodesic Dome.
(People working on construction of Geodesic Dome, circa 1976. Photograph by William Beck.
Photograph Collection, University Archives, University of North Carolina School of the Arts.)

The project was completed in 6-8 weeks on a minimal budget of $10,000. It was an “intimate setting containing 72 seats curved around the stage. Soundproofing was achieved by spraying “Mono Therm insulation around the walls which gave the building an even cozier feel.” (WSJ, 11/9/72, p. A21) Jules Feiffer’s “Little Murders” opened the Dome Theatre on November 8, 1972 directed by Dr. William Jaeger. In total, 31 productions were held in the Dome Theatre from 1972 to 1976 (see list below). Exactly when it was taken down is uncertain. The last vestige of it, the round circular cement slab upon which it was built, was removed last spring when the area was cleared for the new campus Police Building. It stood across the parking lot and catty-corner to the SE corner of Chief Cheesebro’s office.

BTW, Mono-Therm insulation contains up to 87% recycled newspaper and a boric acid flame retardant and is now sold as a GreenSpec product!

Productions performed in the Dome Theatre
Little Murders, 8-18 November 1972
The Dumb Waiter / The Stronger / A Last Supper, 6-14 December 1972
Riders to the Sea / The Dark Lady of the Sonnets / Purgatory, 24 January - 3 February 1973
The Cavedwellers, 21 February - 3 March 1973
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 25-30 September 1973
The Orphan, 6-11 November 1973
All At Once / All For Nothing, 13-18 December 1973
Echoes, 13-16 February 1974
Sweet Diversion, 27 February - 2 March 1974
Hedda Gabler, 10-13 April 1974
My Sweet Charlie, 24-27 April 1974
Old Times, 8-11 May 1974
Tintypes, 21-26 October 1974
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, November 1974
The Sandbox, 17-18 December 1974
Three Contemporary Plays from Off Broadway: Birdbath, The Great Nebula in Orion, The Indian Wants the Bronx, 30 January - 4 February 1975
No Secrets, 21-26 April 1975
The Philadelphia Story, 19-24 May 1975
Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, 27 October - 1 November 1975