If producing a different play almost every single weekend of the academic year sounds crazy, just wait until you meet the members of No Refund Theatre.
More commonly known as NRT, this inclusive theatre club is committed to providing performing opportunities to students of all majors. Each semester, the club produces 8-10 entirely student-run performances in a wide variety of genres.
PAC got the inside scoop on the organization from NRT’s current president, senior film and video major Julie Whelan.
“No Refund Theatre is a community of friends coming together to make really cool art,” said Whelan. “We believe that all students, regardless of major, should have the chance to get involved with theatre on the Penn State campus, so we try our best to provide as many opportunities as possible.”
For many NRT members, the club serves as a creative outlet and an opportunity to collaborate with fellow creative-minded individuals to produce a meaningful piece of theatre.
“We are entirely student-run, so there is a lot of artistic freedom that comes along with putting on an NRT show,” said Whelan. “It’s a really cool moment to see the final product come together and think, ‘We did that. Every single part of that was created by us.’”
NRT prides itself on providing opportunities for students to contribute to all areas of a production, including acting, directing, and more.
“Personally, I’ve participated in aspects such as acting, tech, and directing,” said Whelan.
NRT has already completed two shows so far this semester, and next in the lineup is Deathtrap, directed by Sam Phillips. The show will run from September 28-30 at 8 p.m. in 111 Forum, and admission is completely free. To see what else is coming up for NRT this semester, check out their calendar at norefundtheatre.weebly.com/fall-2017-lineup.html.
So, what if you really want to be involved with NRT, but you’re already crazy-busy with a million other things? Not to worry.
“NRT is great because you can really participate as much or as little as you want and still be considered a member,” said Whelan. “Some people choose to stick with doing one show a semester, and there are some crazies who do a lot more than that, bless their hearts.”
If NRT sounds like your cup of tea, here’s how you can get involved.
“The easiest way someone can get involved with NRT is to come see our shows!” said Whelan. “They’re free and really frickin’ good, so I’d suggest it. If you’re looking to get involved with the acting side of things, we have two rounds of auditions a semester. The best way to hear about all upcoming auditions and other events is to like us on Facebook at facebook.com/NoRefundTheatre/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
For a lot of members, NRT has provided opportunities that extend beyond the stage.
“Through my three, going on four, years of being a part of NRT, I’ve learned so much more than just how to direct a great show or deliver a solid monologue,” said Whelan. “I’ve learned how to be a better listener, I’ve learned how to be a better friend, and I’ve learned how to be a better leader, just to name a few. Our members can take what they learn from this goofy club and apply it to the real world, which is really frickin’ cool to me.”
Whether they’re flash-mobbing in the HUB or lighting up the stage at Schwab Auditorium, the Penn State Thespians rarely go unnoticed in the arts community on campus. They’ve made a name for themselves as the oldest continually active student-run organization on Penn State’s campus. The club has a rich history of dedicated performers, which is something the club’s current members certainly don’t take lightly. They work hard to put together shows each semester that honor the efforts of Thespians past and pave the way for the future of the club.
PAC sat down with the club’s new president, Christie Fisher, to get a feel for what it’s really like behind the scenes of Penn State Thespians. Fischer, who also serves as PAC’s Theatre Marshal, gave us the inside scoop.
“Our mission is to offer artists an outlet for their love of theatre while also providing quality theatre for the State College community,” Fisher said.
As for what’s in store for the club for the fall semester, the Thespians will present their production of The Drowsy Chaperone in Schwab Auditorium, October 12-14. The club will also hold auditions for their January cabaret, MasquerAIDS, next month, as well as for their fall children’s show, Harold & the Purple Crayon, which will be shown December 2-3 in Schlow Library.
“Thespians’ primary goal is to put on great shows,” said Fisher, “but my favorite part of our club is our philanthropic effort.”
Thespians is heavily involved in the Penn State Dance Marathon.
“We have two amazing THON families who many of our members have become very close to, myself included,” said Fisher. Thespians also puts on an annual cabaret, MasquerAIDS, whose proceeds benefit the Center County AIDS Resource Center.
As president of Thespians, Fisher knows firsthand the way the arts can truly impact someone’s life.
“I still get butterflies before I step on a stage,” Fisher said, “but the feeling after the curtains close and knowing you gave it your all is the best feeling in the world. It also helps my memorization skills, builds confidence, and makes me a better public speaker.”
Ready to jump up on the Schwab stage and join them?
“All types and levels of theatre lovers are welcome and we are all very supportive of all of the arts across Penn State’s campus,” Fisher said. “Becoming a member of Thespians is a yearlong process, which sounds more difficult than it actually is. For more information, you can email our vice president, Lauren Goodyear, at email@example.com.”