AU Ambassadors

Student Life at American University

The Performing Arts Experience

April 21, 2016|Posted in: On Campus


William Peters is a freshman journalism major, hailing from Dayton, Ohio. During his first semester at AU, he was able to get involved with the performing arts groups on campus, continuing a life-long passion. Although he is not majoring in the arts, he found a community within the theatre department.

Having dedicated majority of my time in high school to being a classic theater kid, an institution that gave me the chance to continue my involvement in performing arts was at the top of my list. Said dream school turned out to be a university nestled in the heart of Washington, D.C. American University gives students, much like myself, who have a passion in the arts to let that passion travel with them to college and beyond. My freshman year was a whirlwind of excitement, and I owe so much of it to American’s performing arts community.

As mentioned before, one of the factors that drew me to American was that I did not have to be a major in the Department of Performing Arts, or DPA, to participate in their shows. The faculty and students who are majors are so encouraging towards those outside of the program who want to participate. The Department puts on four to five shows each year, and they range from the beloved musicals of The Golden Age to cutting edge original works written by local D.C. playwrights. The professors who direct and produce the productions are industry professionals who are passionate about their craft and inspire students, both majors and non majors, to push themselves artistically. The DPA shows tend to be staged either at The Greenberg Theatre, located on Wisconsin Avenue, and a convenient and scenic twenty minute walk from campus, or The Studio Theatre, which is a smaller, black box style theatre in the American University’s Katzen Center for Performing Arts. While performing in DPA shows has been one of the best parts of my freshman year, it should be noted that partaking in one of these shows is no walk in the park. It takes a good chunk of time, a dedication to the show, the artistic team, and your fellow cast members.

The Department of Performing Arts puts on one show a semester.

The Department of Performing Arts puts on four to five shows a year.

The Department of Performing Arts isn’t the only way to get involved with theatre at American. American has two student theatre groups housed on campus, The AU Rude Mechanicals and The AU Players. The Rude Mechanicals, more casually known as The Rudes, are American University’s premier Shakespearean troupe. Shows featured in their 2015-2016 season include As You Like It, Titus Andronicus, and Romeo and Juliet. The second group, AU Players, focuses on newer and original works. Titles produced in AU Player’s 2015-2016 include You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Neil Simon’s Rumors, and the annual Musical Theatre Cabaret. Shows for both groups are commonly held either in the Studio Theatre in Katzen Arts Center or Kreeger Auditorium, and are all produced, and occasionally written, by students in the AU community.  Both strive to create an inclusive theatre community on the AU campus.

The student organization, The Rude Mechanicals, performed Titus Andronicus in spring 2016.

The student organization, The Rude Mechanicals, performed Titus Andronicus in spring 2016.

If you’d like to continue your passion of the arts through academics, the opportunity to do so is more than available at American. Through Foundational Area 1 of the general education program, students are required to take two courses in the arts. These courses range from studying how American society is reflected on the stage, to exploring the basic fundamentals and skills of acting. The professors of these courses are experts in theatre and the performing arts, and turn an ordinary class into a theatrical experience for the ages.

Whether you prefer to express yourself in the classroom or on the stage, American University offers countless opportunities for students to engage in the performing arts. They say “All the world’s a stage”, and American University is center stage.

To learn more about William and the rest of the Ambassadors, click here.

Posted by Amelia Crabtree

Cacti, cows, and science lover