Arts and Entertainment | Theater

Get involved: All of campus is a stage

  • latenite lizard | Latenite produces an anthology of student-written and -directed plays every semester. Most plays are short, and tend toward irreverence and comedy.
  • veesh | A scene from last year’s 120th Varsity Show “Morningside Nights.” The show is the oldest arts tradition on campus.
  • passing strange | Last semester, the Black Theatre Ensemble collaborated with the Columbia Musical Theatre Society to put on “Passing Strange.”

From well-known plays to musical theater to student-written anthologies, the campus theater scene is bustling, and there are plenty of names to know when it comes to theater at Columbia. Most of these groups will be holding auditions early in the semester, and announcements about dates are usually made through their Facebook pages, linked below.

Traditional Drama
Columbia University Players puts on multiple shows throughout the year. Last semester, CUP presented Bertolt Brecht’s politically charged “Mother Courage and Her Children” and Geoffrey Nauffts’ “Next Fall,” which centered on religion, sexuality, and loss.

File Photo
CU Players | In April, the Columbia University Players put on the play “Next Fall.”

Students can also audition for Barnard theater department productions regardless of their major or school. Among the shows this semester is Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,”and a complete list of this semester’s productions can be found on the theater department’s website. Auditions are Sept. 2 and 3.

Fans of iambic pentameter should seek out King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe. The troupe is known for its outdoor spring show, which has a no-cut policy and is performed all around campus. In the fall, you can audition for two productions. This year, the plays will be “Titus Andronicus” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Original Theater
For those interested in writing their own plays or working on a brand-new piece, there’s Latenite Theatre and New and Original Material Authored and Directed by Students. Each semester, Latenite produces an anthology of student-written plays, which often tend toward the irreverent. NOMADS provides students with a space to develop plays with workshops, staged readings, and fully staged productions.

There are also two major student-created musicals each year. XMAS! is performed at the end of the fall semester and parodies the holiday season and the pring semester wraps up with the oldest performing arts tradition on campus—the Varsity Show, which centers on student life at Columbia.

Musical Theater
Columbia’s main musical theater organization is the Columbia Musical Theatre Society. The group puts on everything from classic musicals, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” to modern works like the punk rock-fueled historical satire “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

If opera is more your style, New Opera Workshop produces scenes from classic opera, as well as original student work, throughout the year.

Special Interest Theater
The Black Theatre Ensemble produces an annual student-written one-act anthology as well as full-length dramas that promote playwrights and actors of color. Last semester, BTE collaborated with CMTS for the first time for “Passing Strange,” a blues-rock musical by Mark “Stew” Stewart that explores identity.

Another niche group is Columbia University V-Day, which organizes an annual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”

zoe.miller@columbiaspectator.com | @zoe_m_miller

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