The overall theatre arts program at Faribault Public High School is dedicated to provide the opportunity for students of all ages and class to explore, discover, and understand the crafts and art of theatrical imagination and production; and for students to gain insights into the uniqueness of the human condition; culminating in a public presentation through various theatrical performance styles and artistic production forms.
"Everyone is Welcome in Theatre"
The theatre program at Faribault High School has had a long tradition of outstanding theatrical productions. It all started with Mr. Michael J. Hanson, who was the FHS theatre director for thirty years until 1997. He began by staging plays in what is now the student center. There was a slightly raised cement stage on the end where the entire snack machines are located that served as the "main stage" for productions. Mr. Hanson was able to get a great number of students involved in his productions. He was also able to expand the number of shows performed from two to four. Hanson would have a fall play, a spring musical and some years, two musicals. The productions he worked on ranged from the classics to very modern pieces. When Hanson had a theatre lab class, there would be an "Opus" production during the semester, so the students who were studying in the class could show what they had learned. Dance was an important part of any of his productions. Hanson was a dancer at heart and he instilled in his students the appreciation for line, form, and movement. In 1985, when the new Middle School building was opened, there was also a 350-seat theatre where Hanson began to produce and stage the high school shows. Mr. Hanson became ill in 1993 and although he did design a lot of the theatre spaces that are here today - beginning with crude drawings on napkins to lists of ideas to be incorporated - he was never able to see the final product. He passed away in 1997. The theatre was completed in February 1998. In the years when he was too ill to direct, others stepped in to keep the program producing shows. Mary Wilfart directed a number of plays for FHS, while Kathy Rush directed the One Act Play competition pieces. Shortly before his death, two fellow instructors informed him that the theatre and rehearsal rooms were going to be named The Michael J. Hanson Performing Arts Center. He was moved. For the 1997-98 school year, Ms. Andrea Shaw was hired as the theatre director. She opened the performing arts center with a production of Guys and Dolls. In the fall of 1998, Paul H. Johnson was hired as the theatre director and the Michael J. Hanson Performing Arts Center was formally dedicated on Sunday, October 25, 1998 with many current and former students and instructors in attendance.