April 11, 2017

Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Tricia Runzel

Interview conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Tricia Runzel is the Curator of Education and Interpretation at the Ellwood House Museum. I had a chance to interview her recently about the upcoming Local Lore tour program that is being held at the Egyptian Theatre.

Kevin: I understand this is the first local Local Lore tour being held. Where did this idea for the tour come from?

Tricia: It was actually Alex’s idea to make this program a tour. When I first approached him with the idea of doing a talk on the history and architecture of the Egyptian, I was thinking of it in terms of our usual lecture format. Alex thought it would be more impactful for community members to view the architecture in person; and I couldn’t agree more!

Kevin:  What do you hope this tour will accomplish?

Tricia:  Like all of our Local Lore programs, I hope this tour will shine a light on an aspect of our local history. Here in DeKalb County, we have so many unique historical moments, buildings, and stories. The Egyptian is especially iconic and I think showcasing its historical roots may give community members a chance to look at the building in a new way.

Kevin: Why was it important to have it held at the Egyptian Theatre?

Tricia: I think this gets back to your first question. Although it would have been nice to look at photos and hear Alex present at another location, it is truly more powerful to see something in person. Standing within a historic site has this unique opportunity to transport you to another time. It’s so much easier to imagine yourself attending one of the Egyptian’s earliest shows in 1929 or 1930 if you’re standing in the building than if you’re sitting in a conference room somewhere looking at photos. I hope that by having this tour at the Egyptian Theatre, visitors will make that special connection between the historical information and the site itself.

Kevin: What do you hope the people who take the tour walk away with when they leave?

Tricia: There will be a lot of takeaways from this program. First, it will give visitors a chance to learn the history of the building – why it came to DeKalb, why the Egyptian style was chosen, what those early years were like. Visitors will also get the opportunity to see the lesser-known areas of the building. Most people are used to being part of the audience, but have never been behind-the-scenes. I hope this program will give them a new perspective. And finally, I hope the tour will deepen community members’ love of this special and historic structure.

Kevin: What are you looking forward to most about the tour?

Tricia: Would you believe I’ve never been to the Egyptian? (Terrible, I know!) I’m still somewhat new to DeKalb myself and haven’t had a chance to visit yet. I can’t wait to see it in person and what a treat it will be that my first visit includes a chance to literally go behind-the-scenes! I have a feeling I won’t be the only first time visitor.