CW: This article references suicide. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources.
Classes have just started, but Georgetown University’s theater community is in full swing, ready to bring shows of all genres to the campus community.
The Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, Nomadic Theatre and Black Theatre Ensemble are all in the midst of auditions for their spring shows. Open to everyone, the groups all share a commitment to building inclusive and supportive communities for their cast and crew. Ranging from musicals to plays, each of these groups brings something new to the campus theater scene.
As the curtains open at showtime, these groups hope their audiences will feel the dedication that they have put into delivering impactful and entertaining shows.
This semester’s shows range from full-fledged productions to smaller performances.
Mask and Bauble, a student theater group, chooses three productions: one classic, one musical, and a student-written short. This semester, the group will put on the hit musical “Into the Woods,” with auditions being held until Jan. 21.
The musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, weaves a twisted yet humorous exploration of what people are willing to do to make their wishes come true, involving the fairy tales of “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” among others.
This semester, Mask and Bauble will also host the annual Donn B. Murphy One Acts Festival, an assortment of one-act performances. Last year the group put on “Machinal,” “Beyond the Lights” and “Violet.”
Nomadic Theatre, a student theater group that focuses on contemporary comedies and dramas, will be producing “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” by playwright Jane Chambers this spring.
The 1980 play focuses on a group of women at an isolated seaside town on Long Island. Their lesbian enclave is disrupted when a straight woman, recently separated from her husband, stumbles unaware into their resort and falls for the rakish protagonist.
In addition to their mainstage productions, Nomadic Theatre is also hosting a charity performance called “Miscast.” All proceeds will go towards arts education initiatives in the Washington, D.C. public school system.
Cameren Evans (CAS ’24), Nomadic Theatre social engagement coordinator and Miscast performer, said these performances are designed to give actors opportunities to perform parts for which they would not typically be cast while also raising money for D.C. public schools.
“It’s a take on MCC Theater’s annual off-Broadway Miscast Gala, during which actors sing songs that [they] would traditionally not be cast as—so roles that do not traditionally fit their gender identity, age, race, etc. Miscast is incredibly special because all of the proceeds go to D.C. public schools, which is so cool! Helping to support younger students indulge in their passions and be able to produce art is really exciting,” Evans wrote to The Hoya.
Black Theatre Ensemble (BTE), which promotes Black voices and heritage in theater through poetry, song and dance, will produce “Long Time Since Yesterday” by playwright P. J. Gibson for their spring production.
“Long Time Since Yesterday” depicts Black women who fell out after college reuniting at the funeral of a friend who died by suicide, BTE Executive Producer Shakeer Hood (CAS ’24) said.
Hood said the play is a powerful examination of Black women and tragedy.
“This is an enthralling piece about sisterhood, friendship and the struggles of grief that shows the tenacity and perseverance of black women through times of strife,” Hood wrote to The Hoya.
Like Nomadic Theatre, BTE also hosts other performances, such as monthly open-mic coffee houses, that encourage all performers to participate.
In all productions, however, the three groups encourage participation, regardless of skill level or experience.
“Into the Woods” Producer Drew Lent (CAS ’25) said this promotes inclusivity in the theater community and dispels the notion that college theater requires an extensive resume.
“The theater community welcomes anybody with any level of experience or background. One misconception about theater is that you need prior experience in performing, but this is so far from the truth,” Lent said. “We are so excited when new people enter the community.”
The roster of Georgetown theater performances requires and relies on new student dedication to bring these powerful performances to life. From the smaller events to the big stage productions, these theater groups build a tight-knit and passionate community in order to bring these shows to their peers.
It Takes a Village
To bring their production to life, each group must have a cast and crew dedicated to bringing the vision to the stage in order to tackle these stories. The shows rely on student involvement; from the director to the cast to the lighting, everything needs to come together by opening night.
“Into the Woods” Director Orly Salik (CAS ’23), who will be overseeing a cast and crew of over 50 people, said having a cohesive team is integral to the production.
“It’s a big one for sure. We’re going to have a cast of 18 and double that number working behind the scenes,” Salik wrote in an email to The Hoya. “But we chose it because of this wonderful large group of people, both new to theater and old, that we are able to welcome in by doing the show.”
The commitment to the full production can seem daunting, but Evans said her admiration for her fellow students who find the time to perform is what brings her across the finish line.
“Creating art with people is always remarkable, but it’s especially significant because of how much people care about the shows we put on,” Evans wrote. “Most people in any process are full-time students with jobs and several other commitments, but they still choose to spend several hours a week to make a show happen.”
With the amount of time and energy invested in the show, those working on productions become close over the theater season, strengthening their performances.
Actor Grace Tourtelotte (CAS ‘25) performed in last semester’s production of “Rent” and recalls the positive effects of spending so much time working on a show.
“I have found an amazing community in theater. This past fall I was in Nomadic’s production of ‘Rent,’ and the entire cast and crew got so close. It really brings people together,” Tourtelotte said.
Hiruni Herat (CAS ’23), director of “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,” said that theater helped them find their home on campus.
“When I transferred to Georgetown I had no idea what I was doing and what groups I would be involved in,” Herat said in an interview with The Hoya. “When I went to the first theater interest meetings, I knew I had found my community.”
Herat said they have made lifelong friends from Nomadic Theatre, and that their work in theater has even helped them to realize they want to work in the arts professionally.
“When I came to Georgetown I had no idea what path lay ahead of me but throughout my time in the Georgetown theater community, I have come to realize that my true passion lies in the arts and, with the help of like-minded creatives, have decided to pursue the arts full time,” Herat said.
Evans said participating in campus theater has changed the trajectory of her time at Georgetown.
“It can be really scary, and it can be disheartening to not get a role you had your eye on, but being a part of a process in whatever capacity can be such an enriching experience,” Evans wrote. “I’m a theater minor now—something that completely came out of left field—and I couldn’t begin to imagine my life without theater on this campus.”
Not Just a Performance
These experiences are ultimately not just about the onstage show. To performers, they run much deeper in creating a second home and feeling of community for both their crew and audience members.
Herat said that their deep connection to “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,” highlights their own experiences in a light they had not seen before in performance art.
“I think this show is very unique in the sense that it is an incredible representation of queer women,” Herat said. “The way queer women form friendships and relationships, the way queer women are funny, they way we grieve. It is one of the best representations of my experience that I have even found and I am excited for the community we form around a story like this.”
Herat said they are proud of BTE’s representation of Black women.
“The most exciting thing about this production is that the production team reflects the story and characters we are trying to express,” Herat said. “Our production staff consists of mostly Black women, we feel that it is important to be representative both on and off stage.”
Herat also said BTE aims to promote marginalized voices in theater, encouraging those who are curious to explore what the art community has to offer.
“The most important message we would like to impart to the wider theater community and theater supporters is that there is space for Black voices in theater and art in general,” Herat said. “For many, theater doesn’t seem like an option because of how it has been represented nationally, however, we are actively proving that anyone can participate and enjoy theater.”
Art touches our lives and makes us feel less alone — from the saddest of Taylor Swift songs to the movie that made you feel authentically seen. It builds a community through shared experiences, which is the aim of Georgetown theater.
Salik said making people feel seen through theater is also a priority for Mask and Bauble.
“’Into the Woods,’ at the end of the day, is a story about the importance of community and the awareness of our responsibility to one another. And I really think the production embodies this,” Salik said.
Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Service (202-687-6985); additional off-campus resources include Resource (phone number).
This article was updated on Jan. 19 to correct the spelling of Grace Tourtelotte’s last name which was incorrectly spelled “Tourtelottee” and to change acronyms for the Georgetown College of Arts and Science from (COL) to (CAS).