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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hold Thy Peace applies to join UTC

Published: November 3, 2006
Section: News

Hold Thy Peace (HTP), Brandeis Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related theatre troupe, applied this week to join the Undergraduate Theatre Collective (UTC). The decision over whether or not to accept the group will be decided during the UTCs commission meeting November 8th.

I think its important to have all the theatre groups connected, which is why the UTC is so great, said HTP President Sara Tess Neumann 07. This year we said wed focus on this more its silly to just keep talking about whether we should or we shouldnt.

I think there are pros and cons, as with almost anything, said Rachel Funk, Hold Thy Peaces treasurer. My hope is that if we join the UTC, some of the issues we currently face as an 'outsider' theater groupwill be ameliorated, if not eliminated altogether.

In the proposal sent to the various UTC theatre groups, Hold Thy Peaces executive board stated that joining the UTC would help solve several logistical concerns, including use of the Shapiro Theatre and its scene-building shop.

Most semesters, the production staff of the show chooses to perform in the Shapiro Theater, Hold Thy Peace stated its proposal. This creates problems because the UTC has most of the semester booked in the theater and we have to negotiate for space.

The group also added that joining the UTC would eliminate issues with double-casting by including Hold Thy Peace in the UTCs common casting system. As the system currently stands, occasionally actors are cast in both UTC and HTP productions, resulting in casting problems [that] have to be resolved at a time when the directors would like to concentrate on starting rehearsals.

I do remember being shocked to find that HTP was not already a member of the UTC last year, said Allison Vanouse 09, who performed in last semesters production of The Scottish Play. It seemed natural to me that HTP, like all of the other undergraduate theater groups, be under that umbrella organization.

Vanouse added that for anybody interested in acting Shakespeare, only good can come of increased support for HTP. An organization with the resources it needs is almost necessarily more capable of fostering meaningful actor-experiences than one without. So, if a link to the UTC gives HTP more priority in the campus theater scene, so much the better.

Erik Potter 07, a member of multiple HTP productions, stated that I was initially very hesitant, but upon distancing myself and thinking from the outside, I see a lot of good potential. He added that his hesitance was sentimental in nature because he likes being the rogue theater group.

Others felt the pros and cons of the argument were not widely presented: Kenny Fuentes 08, a member of the UTC, said I dont really have any strong feelings about this one way or another Im too busy working on an actual UTC production. The politics of the UTC just dont interest me as much.

High-ranking Hold Thy Peace officials did state that while the proposal was agreed upon by a majority of HTP members, some senior and graduated members had reservations about the proposed merger. Neumann said that the main point people brought up was that Hold Thy Peace was originally founded to be different from other theatre clubs. We would not only put up a main stage show, but we would also do separate programs, as well. She added, however, that while that may be true, were still a theatre clubweve tailored our focus to mainly our main stage show.

Potter agreed, saying that, even though the group would become part of a larger collective, it seems like HTP will still be able to maintain its own identity in the UTC.

The decision will be made by the 10 commissioners of the UTC, each representing the current five groups, as well as the UTC Coordinator, Josh Rosenthal 07. Rosenthal said that in order for HTP to join, two-thirds of the commissioners and myself have to vote yes in favor of the proposal.

While declining to comment on his personal opinion of the proposal, he said that money isnt a big issue F-Board decides on a club-by-club basis what to give each club. Rosenthal did say, however, the largest concern was one of mainly equipment and scheduling, adding its always at a premium and always an issue. Rosenthal added that not only would additional shows increase the UTC coffers [but] the best benefit from this would be having everyone on the same page in terms of communication.

Rosenthal added that Hold Thy Peaces proposal marked a significant shift in the clubs image. [Hold Thy Peace] didnt start primarily as a performance group, it started as a group which also did theatre performances, he said. They weren't taken seriously–it was a group devoted to appreciating Shakespeare, not devoted to putting together a professional performance. There's still that stigma attached to that. Rosenthal added that, however, I think one of the reasons Hold Thy Peace is applying for the UTC is that that stigma is falling away, and they really are a performance-based club.

Neumann added that she felt the merger would broaden the talent pools for both groups: There seems to be a bit of a divide between people who do only HTP, and those who do only UTC, she said. There are those who feel their loyalty keeps them only in one group and keeps them from doing a show with any of the other groups.
Vanouse said she remained hopeful for the proposal: I think that it is a good idea. Whatever move HTP can make to gain more funding, theater space, and support seems to me both a wise and logical one, she said. If HTP is able to establish its footing more soundly by joining the UTC, I would, if anything, only be more eager to work with them again.

Pat Garofalo contributed to this article.