The Goel Center grand opening

A celebration worthy of the building's great beauty and promise.

February 8, 2019
Goel Center at Phillips Exeter Academy

With its commanding position at the entrance to South Campus and its spectacular red signature wall, The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Theater and Dance is a head-turner. Theater Instructor Sarah Ream ’75; P’09, P’11 said the space “is not only a facility enabling students to make art; it is art. It is a poem and it is one we will love and study and value for many years to come.”

In October, hundreds of alumni, parents, students and faculty gathered with many of the Goel Center’s benefactors to celebrate this magnificent new building. The two-day festivities included tours, Harkness learning sessions and the Mainstage’s debut performance: a cross-disciplinary adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring an ensemble of more than 120 students and nine instructors. The grand opening culminated with a formal dedication, at which the speakers saved their greatest appreciation for the infinite promise the Goel Center holds.

Keynote speaker Michael Cerveris ’79, a two-time Tony Award-winning performer, shared a deeply personal story of how a role in an Academy theater production four decades ago helped him find his footing at the school — and a career path to follow.

David and Stacey Goel, the lead benefactors of the building, did the ribbon-cutting honors, punctuated by David Goel’s praise for the way the arts “transform us as individuals and as entire communities because of this incredible power to give life to ideas — ideas that start conversations, create empathies, foster compassion and demonstrate possibility and drive real change.”

Ahead of the ceremony, Ream dug out a notebook titled “Planning for a New Theater.” Her entry from September 6, 2001, stated: “We need a facility that gives students the skills to discover not only who they are, but who they could be.”

In the new Goel Center, those discoveries are already underway.