- Written by Ian McCourt
- Published: 18 June 2014
As the school year comes to a close and students say goodbye to their old classrooms, Duxbury High School theater students also say goodbye to a room that was more than just four black walls.
In the late 60’s, Richard C. Miller was in charge of the Duxbury High School Out- doors Club. They traveled across New England and across the country, hiking the Appalachians, the Canadian Rockies, and more. Without cellphones, Miller turned to the CB radio, where he went by the alias “Man of La Mancha.” Man of La Mancha has its roots in Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote, who is also known as ‘the Good Knight.’
The current high school, which will be demolished this summer, featured a blackbox theater, so called because the room is completely dark, with no windows or light allowed in. However, the architects of the school designed a theater with brilliant blond floors, and a giant window by the entrance. Miller, who was also the troupe advisor at the time, decided to put something in the window to shut out any light. He attached a tapestry to the outside of one of his favorite paintings: the Man of La Mancha—The Good Knight.
Thus, the little-known theater was born. But with the new middle-high school finally becoming a reality and the destruction of the old buildings an impending event, the theater will also be taken down this summer.
Those who are familiar with the Good Knight feel bittersweet about the change. The new black box is beautiful, it is a facility that the every other drama department wishes wore their own. But every DHS drama student since the late 60s has worked in the old room. Every show has been involved in that room in some way, whether as a rehearsal space, or as a performance room, or simply as where the sets were built and painted.
The Good Knight isn’t your typical theater—it’s a black box—a place for experimental theater. The room is all black and there are no seats. It could be designed in the round, where the audience surrounds the stage, or with an elevated stage, or in a classic proscenium style, and so on. There are infinite possibilities—and that’s the beautiful purpose of the room.
Darin MacFarlane, the troupe advisor and alum of the program, explained that to people of theatre, a blank can- vas is black, not white. You can do anything in a black box. This idea of infinite possibili- ties is what has made the room so special to so many over the years.
"The Good Knight has no singular identity,” he said. “It means different things to so many different people.”
MacFarlane said there was no elaborate plan to send-off the Good Knight because nothing seemed adequate. MacFarlane said the troupe decided to keep the send-off simple. After the final shows were performed and the awards were delivered last weekend, MacFarlane asked the audience of parents, students, friends, and alumni from every decade since the sixties to wait a moment—and enjoy the silence of the room as they turned out the lights in the Good Knight for the last time.
“For the alumni, for anyone who has walked through those doors, the shows will be different, but the experience is shared,” MacFarlane said. “It has become a symbolic home because there was that sense of ownership [to us]. For all of us in the drama program, it was one of the most special rooms in the entire building.”
While the walls will fall, those experiences and relation- ships will not. There is a new black box to be shared, and a new canvas with it.