A $ 10 million pledge from UCLA alumnus Elizabeth Reiko Kubota Whitney and Kenneth Whitney will support the revitalization of the historic Ralph Freud Playhouse at UCLA School of Drama, Film and Television.
Their support will go to building a fascinating 21st century space that will allow students, faculty, staff, guest artists and academics around the world to design and execute performances and experiences at the highest levels of excellence, from classical theater to immersive virtual. reality and other digital productions.
The Whitneys act as a catalyst for the film and television school’s fundraising campaign and the renovation of the Freud (pronounced “frood”). The remodel is expected to be completed in 2024, when the facility will be renamed the Whitney Family Theater in the Ralph Freud Playhouse. The improvements will advance the venue’s position as a premier destination for theater and performance art at UCLA and for the City of Los Angeles.
âI have had the honor of knowing Liz and Ken Whitney and their wonderful family for 10 years. Becoming their friend is one of the most precious gifts I have had as a dean, âsaid Teri Schwartz, dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television, one of the most important academic institutions. important to the world for education in entertainment and the performing arts. âReceiving this transformational support from the Whitney Family for our Centennial Campaign and the iconic Freud Playhouse speaks volumes about their deep generosity, inherent goodness, and belief in the power of entertainment education and the performing arts. scene, which nourishes and develops artists and academics. that will not only delight and entertain, but will enlighten and inspire change for a better world.
âWe will be forever grateful to Liz and Ken for their vision and for creating a wonderful legacy in support of UCLA TFT. Our amazing students will be the beneficiaries of their incredible philanthropy in the future. “
Conceptualized by innovative architectural firm Clive Wilkinson Architects, the Whitney Family Theater at the Ralph Freud Playhouse will feature a redesigned interior that is more in line with the way theater is presented and experienced today. The 500-seat theater will offer a more intimate layout and relationship with the stage, a new balcony and a welcoming hall created to host receptions.
The lighting and sound booths will be updated with cutting edge technology that supports staged performances, lectures and live events as well as augmented reality, virtual reality and other digital productions. State-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment will be installed, and reconfigured green rooms, dressing rooms, hairdressing and make-up rooms will further transform the space.
âSeveral years ago, Ken and I decided to focus our charitable giving on programs supporting minority and disadvantaged children, education, athletics and the arts,â said Liz Whitney, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1980 from UCLA College of Fine Arts (now the School of Theater, Film and Television). âWe were inspired by Dean Teri Schwartz with her vision and leadership for UCLA TFT and its future. It is an honor and a privilege to make this donation for the update and redesign of the Ralph Freud Playhouse.
âThis gift to UCLA is especially special to me because the years I spent in school here have had a huge impact on my life and career. We hope this project will have an impact on life and the careers of the next generation of students in UCLA TFT programs.
Liz Whitney is a Tony Award-winning producer (“Fun Home”, “Network”) and former actress whose resume includes roles on many popular 1980s television shows, such as “MacGyver” and ” TJ Hooker “. She was also a cast member of the 1982 Mark Taper Forum’s acclaimed production of “August 6, 1945,” on the Hiroshima Bombing. She has long been a UCLA TFT Champion. In 2010, in honor of her late sister, Jeanne, she established the Jeanne Michiko Kubota Memorial Scholarship Fund, which offers full four-year scholarships to deserving undergraduate theater students in need.
Kenneth Whitney operates a private family investment office focused on start-ups and entertainment projects. He was previously Senior Managing Director and Head of Blackstone’s Investor Relations and Business Development group. He is a Tony Award winning producer and currently serves on the board of directors of The First Tee and the University of Delaware, his alma mater.
The iconic Ralph Freud Playhouse has been the vital and creative hub of UCLA TFT’s drama department and much of the UCLA campus for over 50 years. It offers a fully dynamic learning and performance space for students, faculty and staff, as well as national and international theater companies. It was built in 1962 and was named in 1969 in honor of Ralph Freud, the founder of the Department of Theater Arts at UCLA. The Freud has a rich history of hosting world-renowned companies, including Disney; The Olympic Arts Festival; The Wooster group; the Berlin Ensemble; The Royal Court Theater; and Suzuki Company of Toga, Japan.
It was also the home of the American Zoetrope studio of former UCLA student Francis Ford Coppola, who, in collaboration with the school, created “Distant Vision,” an experimental live cinema project involving over 100 students, faculty and staff in various production and acting roles.