Professor of Education Pat Collins was honored – and surprised – last night when the Geneva Community Center’s Black Box Theater was renamed The Pat Collins Black Box Theater. The announcement was first made during a reception preceding the opening of “YOUTH!” a musical revue featuring songs, skits and dances from each of the past 25 years of Geneva Youth Theater shows; Collins was among the production’s directors.
A crowd of more than 100 people gathered outside the theater and cheered as Jan Regan, a member of the Geneva Community Center’s board of directors, announced that the theater would be named in his honor.
Over the past five years, Collins has served on the Geneva Community Center Advisory Committee and was instrumental in establishing the Center’s Black Box Theater. He has since staged several community productions there.
In addressing the crowd, Collins noted the collaboration that went into creating the theater. “The youth theatre is a community theatre, we’ve all worked to put so much into the youth theatre, so think of this as our Black Box Theatre, something I wish to see prosper for 25 more years and so on,” said Collins.
The naming gift was presented by the Geneva Boys and Girls Club and the Geneva Theatre Guild (GTG), in honor of Collins’ decades of service to the organizations and the people they serve. The Boys and Girls Club and GTG collaborated to raise funds to support the theatre and name it for Collins.
“It is so appropriate to have this theater bear the name of Pat Collins. Through his work with Geneva Youth Theater and his generous giving of time and expertise to the Community Center, he has impacted our community in the most positive of ways,” said Regan. “It was a true pleasure to have our two groups come together to honor him.”
Following the ceremony, President Mark D. Gearan called Collins a treasure to the Hobart and William Smith campus and the greater Geneva community. “Pat Collins is a model of civil engagement, a model for educators, fathers, and friends,” Gearan said. “I am honored that we can provide a visible showing of our gratitude to such a great man.”
This honor follows other recognition that Collins has received for his service. During its 14th Annual Dinner Celebration in January, the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva named Collins “The Boys and Girls Club Volunteer of the Year for 2010.” State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio read a state proclamation recognizing Collins for his volunteer efforts and congratulated him.
Collins started volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club in its first year of existence, working with children in arts and literacy programming. In 1986, Collins helped establish the Geneva Youth Theater Guild and headed that organization until 2004. In partnership with the Geneva Theatre Guild and the Geneva Recreation Department, he founded the Nancy Curvin Playground Players, and for many years directed and produced plays for the Geneva High School Drama Club. In addition, he has directed several children’s plays at Hobart and William Smith, producing main stage productions for school-aged audiences in conjunction with his course, Theatre and the Child. In 2009, he was one of the first recipients of the Theatre Association of New York Fredric Blumberg Distinguished Volunteer Award.
Several of Collins’ courses at the Colleges have benefited the youth of Geneva by producing children’s plays on campus and holding after-school workshops to help college students discover the power of drama and to pass that on to the children who participated.