Celebrating its 40th anniversary over the weekend, the Hinman Production Company (HPC) has been a staple of Binghamton University’s theatre scene since its inception. When it was initially founded, the student theatre organization was one of two options for students to get involved in theatre, along with the University’s theatre department. Although similar organizations have since developed at BU, HPC still maintains its unique presence on campus.
The group held festivities on Saturday with a three-part schedule. The day included a gathering in the Hinman Commons, a party at the homecoming tailgate in the Events Center parking lot and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for students and alumni at the end of the night.
The initial meeting also included a tour of the HPC’s storage space, where sets from previous productions were showcased.
“It is definitely a reunion, as it’s about bringing people together to see old friends and share old memories,” said Kevin Wallace, public relations officer for HPC and a senior double-majoring in computer science and mathematics. “We’re opening up our performance, rehearsal and storage spaces for people to see what kind of sets we’ve worked on, how we have grown our technical capabilities, how our administrative space has changed and essentially how the times have changed.”
Through its wide array of productions and different styles of directing, HPC has transformed since it first began and alumni have noticed the organization’s growth.
“Obviously a lot of work has gone into the handbills and the production value is just astonishing,” said Tony Toluba, ’82. “I suspect that over the years there have been lessons learned and a lot of energy has been put in and they have done the best they could do.”
Alumni also noted that the addition of social media has transformed how current and past members interact.
“You get the benefit of having an online presence, which we did not have … at the time,” said Margo Ball, ’84. “Like I was able to look up the Facebook page and look at the profiles of the actors on the program letter. Because of those things, I think they have more ground they can cover.”
Wallace said the anniversary was an opportunity for current members to learn from HPC alumni, whether it be insight into past positions on the club or advice on careers in theatre after college.
“If any other former public relations officers are coming, I can ask what they may have done in the past to outreach more to other clubs and how they went about their job, because it is nice to pick up tips and tricks from people who have done the job before,” Wallace said. “It’s also a networking opportunity in that sense, to see people that you share this connection with. I know a lot of people who are excited to talk to alumni who came out of this club and went on to become real people after college and see how their experiences with HPC helped them as a full person when they got out of college.”
According to Wallace, one of the basic principles of HPC is the value of the bonds it has created among its actors and members, and the anniversary reunion was the perfect opportunity for past members to relive their times in the club.
“One of the Hinman Production Company’s roots is that we are more than just a production company — we are a family outside of that,” Wallace said. “All of these people that are coming back, they are not coming back just to see people that they have done shows with because theatre is fun, which it is … you can do theatre anywhere. You can do community theatre or go professional on Broadway, but the people you meet in certain places you can only find in those places, and that is where we fit right in.”