Drama at Theatre Pre-Orientation: Students Get Into Character

Drama at Theatre Pre-Orientation: Students Get Into Character

Anna Reagan

No, SMUTCo is not something dirty or illicit. The powers that be are fully aware of its existence; one does not need to whisper its name. Start thinking more along the lines of Singing in the Rain and you will be on the right track.

SMUTCo — short for Student Musical Theater Company — is one of the branches under the massive umbrella of Masque and Triangle, Colgate’s largest student-run theater group. Ten members of the Class of 2011 got the chance to study with experienced theater buffs while getting a first glimpse of the theater programs at Colgate. One might be inclined to believe that if you love theater, it is not a question of why you would sign up for the Masque and Triangle First Year Pre-Orientation Program; it is a question of why you wouldn’t.

Masque and Triangle is a very old institution at Colgate; it was formed in 1914. Following a long hiatus beginning in the 1950’s, the organization only returned two years ago. Masque and Triangle envelopes many groups: Student Theater, SMUTCo, Urban Theater (focusing on race issues) and a Ballet Company. The group is a total meritocracy, with rank and privilege based on talent.

Along with the reinstatement of Masque and Triangle came the birth of the theater New Visions pre-orientation program. Fifteen students applied, twelve were accepted. During the program, the first-years participated in workshops focusing on improvisation, technical theater, stage-managing and dance. Each student was then assigned a monologue and scene to work on. Everyone received one-on-one attention.

Being a part of the pre-orientation program does not necessarily mean that you have a leg up over the other students that come later. Sophomore Rachel Wassel, the producer of SMUTCo, said that last year an unknown first-year snagged the lead in one of the plays — based on pure talent.

“It’s all about building a strong theater community,” Wassel stressed.

And that it is. Wassel herself, as a first-year, was able to find the support to direct her own play, Reefer Madness written by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney. During the first stages of rehearsal and set design, she recalled how she would take the time to help other directors set up before their own rehearsals just because they had taken the time to help her. She was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from upperclassmen and the more experienced members of the group. This speaks to the kind of people involved with Masque and Triangle and to the general spirit of the group.

“It’s not about individual gain,” Wassel said.

There is hardly even a pecking order as respect is given to members who have earned it.

Later this fall, all members of the Class of 2011, and the rest of the student body, are welcome to audition for upcoming shows put on by Student Theater, SMUTCo, Random Instances of Improvisation (RIOT), One Night Stands, Charred Goosebeak, and possibly a 24 Hour Burn.

Some may wonder how the University comes into all of this. There is indeed university-run theater.

Wassel insisted that there really is no tension between the departments except for arguing over space, of which there is not enough.

The two halves of the Colgate Theater Community seem to work in perfect harmony — as do the individuals that are a part of them. With all of this theater and performing going around, there really does seem to be very little drama.