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Community welcomes Black Box Theatre renovations

A new act began for the Black Box Theatre in the town of Indian Head on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting to celebrate renovations.

Evelyn Hungerford, chairwoman of the Indian Head Center for the Arts, a nonprofit that runs the theater, showed the renovated upstairs to local officials and community members before a ceremony was held outside.

Hungerford explained how the new hardwood floor upstairs in the main room holds memories for her. As a little girl, Hungerford learned ballet in that room.

The Black Box Theatre came about after the idea of a floating theater on the Chesapeake Bay did not pan out. A painting upstairs depicts the dream of the Chesapeake Bay Floating Theatre.

“It says 1,000 words though,” Hungerford said of the painting.

In another small room upstairs that is carpeted, Hungerford said: “let me just tell you what I envision.” The room would be perfect for contractors working with Naval Support Facility Indian Head looking to rent office space.

Renovations began in three phases eight years ago, according to George Nash, director of external affairs and special projects for the construction company Facchina. He added that when he started at Facchina, one of the first calls he got was to help with the Black Box’s renovations.

“It’s been difficult to bring a black box theater when there is no such creature here,” Hungerford said. The renovations were funded by a Maryland state grant of $170,000.

As the tour upstairs continued, Hungerford showed visitors two conference rooms and stopped for a moment in the room with a long table.

“This is our pride and joy,” Hungerford said. She felt that the town deserved and needed a conference room.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) visited the conference room with the Charles County Chamber of Commerce’s Military Alliance Council. Hungerford’s hope is that NSF Indian Head also finds reason to rent the conference room.

“But, the town comes first,” Hungerford said.

She added the theater’s downstairs capacity is 90.

“That’s why so many theaters have black boxes — because it’s intimate,” she said.

In front of the building, Hungerford and Indian Head Mayor Brandon Paulin cut a blue ribbon while surrounded by officials and community members.

Charles County commissioner Debra Davis (D) presented a signed copy of the county seal to Hungerford and said that in a successful community, people live who make the community a success.

When Davis attended “Life is a Cabaret” and viewed renovations on Aug. 22 at the Black Box, she said the change “took my breath away.”

“Thanks for being the visionary,” Davis said to Hungerford.

Hungerford said a project like renovating the building upstairs takes leadership, and someone to sweep the carpets.

“When you look at people who walk the walk and talk the talk, Vince and Evie Hungerford are the people who do that,” said Sue Greer, chairwoman of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, referring to Hungerford and her husband .

The Black Box “is a passion and love of theirs,” Greer said.

“This is the example of public-private partnership,” she said, referring to the Hungerfords, Davis and Paulin. “That’s community.” On behalf of the chamber, Greer said she was proud of the community’s work.

In an email after the ceremony, Paulin wrote he is extremely excited about the theater’s renovations.

“The building looks phenomenal and I know the residents and myself are going to enjoy all they will provide to the Indian Head community,” Paulin wrote. “It really is a night-and-day difference on the inside, specifically upstairs.”