All the world’s a stage

Campus opportunities in performing arts

| Theater Editor

Maybe you’re a freshman trying to find your niche, or a senior with a 12-credit course load—no matter your reason or background, there will always be room for you in Washington University’s performing arts scene.

It may sound daunting to put yourself out there and audition, practice or simply share your work with a new group of people. But I promise, it’s worth it—there is nothing quite like this community, and your college experience will be all the better for getting involved. But where do you start? Check out some of the opportunities below, and be sure to follow up by liking the groups’ Facebook pages or joining their mailing lists. Even if you decide not to participate, you’ll have a calendar full of cool (and mostly free) events to attend on campus.

Theater and dance

The Performing Arts Department (PAD)

The PAD hosts dance and theater shows each season, ranging from big musicals to improv dance pieces. This is a great choice for people who want to make the performing arts a big part of their school year. You can even get course credit for participating! This year, the new student reception will be on Friday, Aug. 21 at 3 p.m. New students and their parents are invited to hear about the season, performing arts classes and student performing groups in the PAD lounge on the third floor of the Mallinckrodt Center. Theater auditions for the season will be held on Aug. 27 and 28, while dance auditions will take place on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Annelise Mertz Dance Studio. Check out the PAD website for more information:

Student theater

Wash. U.’s three student theater groups put on a variety of shows every year, from cabaret-style open-mic nights to experimental plays. If you’ve dabbled in theater or are a total newbie to the scene, student theater is a great way to get involved in the theater community. This year, two of Wash. U.’s student theater groups, Thyrsus: Art Without Shame and Cast N’ Crew, will be hosting joint auditions for their fall seasons on Tuesday, Sept. 8th. Check out all three groups on Facebook for more information: Thyrsus Wash U, Cast N’ Crew and All Student Theatre.

Student dance groups

If you like to boogie, there is definitely a dance group on campus for you. Many dance groups also perform in cultural shows later in the year (like Black Anthology, Diwali and Lunar New Year Festival). If you’re interested in getting your groove on or just getting a little exercise that doesn’t involve hating yourself for 45 minutes, check out some of the groups on the SU Group Directory, like WUSauce, WU Swing Dance Club and WU Style Step Team. Of course, these are only three groups of many: so shake your butt over to the activities fair!


The Department of Music

If you want to make singing or playing music a daily part of your life on Wash. U.’s campus, head to the Department of Music. You can try out a new instrument in ensemble lessons or keep your voice fine-tuned with a private instructor. Wash. U. also has a total of eight small and large ensembles for students. Auditions begin in the fall semester. For more information, head to the department’s website:

A capella

Do you sing (even if it’s just in the shower)? Wash. U. has 12 a capella groups that sing everything from Disney songs to Hebrew pop. You’ll definitely hear some of them perform around campus during the year at concerts, the Underpass and special Wash. U. events. If you’re interested in auditioning this fall, an a capella info session will be held on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. in College Hall. Check out the A Capella Advisory Council’s website for more information:

Student music groups

If you’re looking for a way to play that doesn’t involve 100-year-old music, check out WUPops Orchestra! The group, functioning since 2007, has played everything from the theme music from Disney’s “The Incredibles” to the pop classic “Mr. Brightside.” If you’re interested in getting involved, head over to the group’s website:


Everyone likes to laugh—join an improv or sketch comedy group, and you’re sure to make more than a few giggles happen. Wash. U. has three improv groups covering long- and short-form improv, and a new sketch group called Kids On Campus. If you’re interested in trying out, check out the information session (held sometime during the second week of classes) hosted by Mama’s Pot Roast, Suspicious of Whistlers and K.A.R.L..

Spoken word

Slam poetry has become the next big thing in performance arts over the past decade. What was once a crazy game for poets and strangers in bars has become the fodder for our generation’s social justice revolution. Or maybe you just have some feelings on “My Little Pony” that you’d really like to share. If you have something you want to say, but you’d like to write it down first, head to WU-SLam: Inklings, a regular writing group that provides participants with a space to write, share and discuss. For more info, check out the Facebook page: WU-SLam.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of performing arts opportunities on campus. So, go to the activities fair, ask your friends and resident advisers and keep your eyes peeled when you pass fliers in your dorm! Want more info on any of the groups I talked about, or think I left an important category out? Email me at [email protected]