Theatre Workshop: For Students, By Students

“For students, by students.” This phrase is one of the main taglines that Theatre Workshop, Colorado College’s own student-run theater company, uses to describe itself.  Like several other CC groups, such as Dance Workshop, Theatre Workshop (TW) is directed, produced, and performed entirely by students.

Junior Hailey Dennis, a theater and history double major, is a board member of TW who began attending TW’s shows as a freshman.  “I was interested in theater, and I thought it was really cool and unique that CC has a theater that’s completely student-run,” said Dennis. By sophomore year, she was performing in TW productions and “absolutely fell in love with Theatre Workshop,” she said.  I wanted to be involved in any way that I could.  I had a bunch of friends on the board and they eventually encouraged me to join.”

Photo by Daniel Sarché

Board members, of which there are currently nine, are essentially responsible for everything that happens in the theater.  “The student directors and designers pitch an idea to the TW board, and we will give them funding and a space for their show,” Dennis said.  Every show has a representative from the board who helps produce the play, helps the director get their footing, and ultimately makes sure that the show is set up smoothly.  TW has produced up to 10 shows a semester, but usually averages around four or five in that time.

Consistent with the inclusive spirit of TW, the group holds open casting calls to scout out talent for upcoming shows. The casting calls are open for all types of talent—performers often sing, act, or show off unique talents like juggling.

TW’s most recent open casting call was held last Friday, with a new set of performers turning up to showcase their talents.  “People can be kind of intimidated by department shows (more formal theater productions put on by the Theatre department) and the great thing about TW is that you don’t have to have any theater or performance experience at all,” said Dennis. “We try to get people both who have a lot of experience and those who don’t.  It’s a really fun way to meet a lot of people and get involved with the theater community.”

Although TW is obviously a theater-based program, it in no way excludes those who currently aren’t involved in theater at CC.  “It’s really good for the theater community to come together with people who aren’t necessarily majors and minors but who love performance,” said Dennis.  She emphasized that only a few of the board members are theatre majors, and that there are humanities and science majors mixed in as well.

The same can be said for those who aren’t necessarily looking to be on the board, but would love to be involved in some way.  “I think that the purpose and the goal of TW is really to encourage students’ agency to create art,” said Dennis.  “With every different board the dynamic changes a little since we all have different styles, but there’s always the same overall goal in mind.”  Dennis said that her favorite part of being involved in TW is watching the plays progress from ideas into full-fledged performances.

Dennis and the other members of the TW board emphasize that it exists to serve the student population of CC, both as participants and as spectators.  “The main takeaway is that it’s ‘for students, and by students,’ which in some ways is kind of weird but really awesome because we have the ability to make all of the choices and decide what things are relevant and what things are important,” Dennis said. TW will be performing “Halfway,” a senior thesis, first weekend of Block 3, along with various other plays throughout the semester.

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