Fire in Mago Hunt forces theater department to move location of play

By Madison Pfeifer | November 30, 2019 6:17pm

A fire in Mago Hunt is forcing the theater department to relocate for their upcoming play.

Media Credit: Taylor Ursulum / The Beacon

UPDATED Monday 12/2/2019 at 9:57 a.m.

A fire that started in the Mago Hunt scene shop on Friday evening is forcing the theater department to move the location of their upcoming play.

The fire was reported just before 5 p.m, according to the Public Safety Crime and Fire Log. At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown, according to an email from Portland Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Jesse Altig. Public Safety could not be reached for comment.

Altig said the fire was extinguished within ten minutes of arriving at the scene, and two trucks, four engines and two fire chiefs arrived at Mago Hunt. A total of 26 firefighters were at the scene, and crews helped to remove smoke from the building. No injuries were reported. An investigation into what caused the fire is ongoing.

“Damage is quite small, and limited to materials,” Vice President for University Operations Jim Ravelli said in an email. “The structure was not damaged, but there is still some cleanup to do from the water and smoke. We have a team on-site doing that clean-up now. We are still assessing what parts of the building will be open on Monday.”

Ravelli said Portland Fire will issue a report in the next few days on what its investigation found. Vice President for Marketing and Communications Michael Lewellen said initial reports say that no foul play is suspected.

"The Mago Hunt Theater, scene shop, rehearsal room (Gray Box) and nearby stairwell are closed indefinitely; and access to Studio 9 and the music practice room is restricted to alternate entrances," Lewellen said in an email sent Monday morning. "The recital hall, music library and costume shop are still accessible."

Lewellen said the Department of Performing and Fine Arts will contact students and faculty whose schedules are directly impacted by the damage caused by the fire.

“We’re currently working on moving scenery, props and costumes for the show down to the Blair Studio Theater,” Associate Professor of Theater Andrew Golla said in an email. “And the entire production team (all of which are students) and I have been making plans for reconfiguring the performance for the new space”

Props from the theater department have been put in the lobby of Mago Hunt.

by Taylor Ursulum / The Beacon

The theater department’s upcoming play, “Wolves Eat Elk,” was set to be performed in Mago Hunt from Dec. 5 through Dec. 7, but has been moved to the Blair Studio Theater in the Mehling Hall basement, according to Golla. The play will take place during the original dates and times but seating will be limited due to the size of the Blair Studio Theater. 

“I truly believe that in this situation, the show must go on and we are currently doing everything in our power to make that happen,” junior Jackson Bulger, stage manager for the show said in an email. “We have wonderful faculty members behind us and our amazing director is very supportive in this incident. I am certain that this very talented cast can deal with the adversity placed in front of them and put on a stunning show.”

Maddie Pfeifer is the News and Managing editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at