Collins Hall: Far in Distance, Close in Heart


Collins Hall is beloved by many at Fordham. (Courtesy of Ryan Di Corpo)

Since going home for the coronavirus pandemic, I have had a hard time finding places where I feel comfortable writing. Under the pressure of a bustling newsroom and a deadline, I can write a news article anywhere. But when I write for myself, I like the atmosphere to feel comfortable. Calm. Happy. 

This semester, I started taking an hour to myself on Friday afternoons to sit in Collins Auditorium to write. I brought a cup of tea, headphones, my journal and a fresh pen. I sat in the house, on the stage, in the booth and lost myself for an hour.

As I search for a new space to write, I can’t help but reflect on why Collins is my sanctuary.

Almost three years ago, I walked up Collins’ steps for the first time, vaguely curious about a theater community I had little intention of joining.

I didn’t know back then that that would be the first of many grueling climbs up those stairs. For some reason, Collins’ stairs, in particular, make you realize how out of shape you are.

As legend tells, Collins’ exterior was built first and the interior was added later on (notice how the staircases don’t line up with the windows). Old photos reveal a grand theater with balcony seating and endless architectural details. As the years went by, the balcony was dismantled and the theater slowly fell into disrepair. How Collins lives in people’s memories versus its physical appearance couldn’t be more different.

Despite its looks, that building holds some of my most cherished memories at Fordham. It’s crazy to think that a building was the common factor that led to close relationships, beautiful memories and so much personal growth. 

I think about lying on the stage until the early hours of the morning, sharing snacks and stories with friends. Every year, on Sept. 21, I dance on Collins’ steps to “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, a tradition my roommate and I started our freshman year.

I reflect on set and light builds and meetings that started as an excuse to interact with other people but turned into physical representations of passions I didn’t know I had. I found my confidence on that stage, directing my peers as we worked to create something beautiful.

I sat in the scratchy, red seats, watching a production come to life before my eyes. Glancing down at a playbill that humbly listed my name.

The comfy computer chairs in the light and sound booth remind me of serious meetings, fast-paced cue to cues, hours of focusing lights and deep conversation and alone time, staring out the window at the stage below. I think about water from the cooler downstairs in the philosophy department because it’s the best on campus.

The Blackbox is a safe space to laugh, as you sit in front of a rainbow wall covered in the names of those who came before you. The basement lounge is full of ghosts from past casts and production teams. A space that housed us when we didn’t have any other room reserved. 

This year, Collins underwent some much-needed construction. The university began work to install a ramp and an elevator as well as touch up some of the more dire repairs in the theater. 

But no one who values their time in Collins focuses on its flaws. What that building helps facilitate matters too much for us to focus on what’s missing. 

While I’m sad that I lost my writing space and happy place, I’m so excited to return in the fall. When we come back, Collins will hopefully have an elevator, and its beautiful exterior will be returned to its former glory. 

I can’t wait to walk in, breathe in the stale, dusty air and feel the outside world fall away.