Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall is the main performing arts complex on the campus of the College of William and Mary. Completed in 1956, it replaced Phi Beta Kappa Hall, the original theatre building that burned in December of 1953, now rebuilt as Ewell Hall. The building was named in honor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the first national academic honor society, which was founded by William and Mary students in 1776.
The Hall houses classrooms and offices for the Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance. It is an academic building whose production spaces provide classrooms and laboratories for the curricular programs of the Department including three performance venues and the scenic and costume shops.
The building also houses a reception and meeting room, and the chapter room and office for Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. When it was built, Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall was called "the best equipped, non-professional playhouse in America" and is still today one of the finest theatre facilities in the region.
The Mainstage Theatre has a modified proscenium stage and seats 763 in the main floor and balcony. It is the main laboratory in which students practice their skills in theatre and dance production.
The Mainstage Theatre also provides a formal performance space for the Department of Music and other University-sponsored concerts. University ceremonies, convocations, and lectures are regularly held in the Theatre, as well as performances by student organizations and area symphony orchestras and dance companies. The Hall was the site of the 1976 Presidential Debate between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and the Democratic Party Debate of the 1982 presidential campaign.
The Studio Theatre is a flexible performance space, a "black box theatre", equipped with portable audience risers that may be assembled in different configurations. In the standard semi-thrust arrangement, the theatre seats 109. The Studio Theatre is the main classroom and laboratory for the Theatre Department's acting and directing classes and is the primary rehearsal space for the Department's Mainstage productions. It is also the main performance venue and rehearsal space for smaller or experimental productions directed by faculty, selected senior-level students, and for acting and directing class projects.
The Lab Theatre is a small flexible-space theatre well suited for small cast or monodrama presentations. It is a lecture classroom and is also utilized for acting classes.
Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall contains a well-designed carpentry shop for the construction and painting of scenery and properties. The shop has capability of wood construction, metal work, and plastics fabrication.
Computer Design and Drafting Lab
Through the generosity of an alumna, the Department maintains a small design and drafting laboratory in the former projection room above the rear of the mainstage balcony.
The drafting lab area also houses a lighting laboratory for experimentation with lighting angle and color.
The costume shop includes facilities for cutting and draping, machine and hand-sewing, material dying, laundry and storage for stock material.