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On the Ground: Finding a Home Onstage in the Perko Black Box Theatre

May 02, 2022
Perko Black Box Theatre
Photo by Marc Faubel (above). Photo by Suzanne Delle (below).

At first glance, York College of Pennsylvania may look like a typical campus in a typical college town—but look a little closer, and you’ll discover a community full of hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems. In our On the Ground series, we explore some of YCP’s most beloved places and spaces with help from our own Spartan students.

“I’ve done so much in Perko over the last four years and have made so many memories in that room,” says Theatre major Melanie McGeary ’22. “The space really feels like home to me.”

Perko is an extremely versatile space, serving a variety of functions for students, faculty, and members of the community. As a black box (a simple, indoor performance space with plain black walls and a level floor), Perko is much smaller than a standard performance stage like the College’s Waldner Performing Arts Center (WPAC) theatre. According to Melanie, “[Perko’s] a much more up-close-and-personal, intimate space that really forces the audience to focus and invest themselves in what they’re watching.” Photo of Melanie Jarvis In Perko, she says, “performers can get right up in the faces of audience members. They can sit directly next to them, interact with them, and really pull them into what’s happening on stage.”

She fondly recalls that Scene Study, her very first class after transferring to YCP in 2019, was held in the Perko Black Box Theatre. “Above anything else, I remember the excitement of walking into a theatre class being held in an actual theatre space. I’ve had many classes in Perko over the last four years: Devised Theatre, Performance and Practice, Improv Techniques, Classical Acting, etc. I’ve also done shows in Perko, including Everybody in November 2019, in which I played a ‘Somebody.’” 

“To me, Perko is a constant reminder of why I chose Theatre, and why I chose YCP,” Melanie continues, “The friendships and connections I’ve made in that room are ones that I know will last a lifetime It’s the one spot that I’m going to miss the most when I graduate in May.”

The Black Box Theatre has played multiple roles in Melanie’s YCP experience. She’s used Perko to stage and rehearse her senior capstone, directing the play Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons by Sam Steiner, before the show made the move to virtual. “I was in Perko four nights a week for almost two full months with my cast, directing and running rehearsals.”

Melanie adds, “I know it might sound silly of me to say, but it’s an incredibly special place for a theatre artist to work. It’s been extremely helpful in preparing me for life post-YCP by allowing me to work in a theatrical space that departs away from the standard proscenium. I encourage anyone who enters that space to do so with an open mind and a willingness to explore.”