Do you have a secret inner performance artist just waiting to break free? Whether you’re an amateur or distinguished veteran of the spotlight, the Dead Arts Society at UC Davis believes you should be able to experience theatre and artistically express yourself.
The Dead Arts Society (DAS) is one the many unique student-run clubs on campus. DAS focuses on dramatic art and aims to create low-budget original productions that utilize a diverse group of students from UC Davis. The club performs plays, musicals, short scenes, choreography, poetry, songs and any other type of performing art, as long as they’re original pieces of work by students who have attended DAS workshops.
DAS was founded in 2010 by UC Davis alumna Jenny Adler. Adler created the club for students who wanted to take part in the performing arts but didn’t have the time to practice for school productions. The typical stage production expects up to 30 hours a week and students who have other time commitments often have to miss out on the opportunity to perform. When Adler created DAS, she cut down commitment to only three to six hours a week.
The shorter time commitment proves quite doable for many busy students and the club draws a wide range of majors and talents who have a passion for performance art. The group prides itself on working with students of all experience levels and does its best to include as many people who are interested in theatre arts as possible.
Second-year English major Leah Daugherty acts and writes for DAS and has come to enjoy the creatively open atmosphere of the group.
“It [DAS] is a safe, supportive, creative space for anyone interested in making art and friends,” Daugherty said in an email. “My favorite parts of being in DAS are the camaraderie and seeing original pieces performed. That’s what’s really exciting, seeing these scripts come to life.”
DAS has three showcases a year, one per quarter (excluding Summer Session). The first two showcases in Fall and Winter Quarters are mostly short scenes occasionally intermixed with music and poetry. The Spring Quarter showcase consists of one-acts, full-length musicals and/or full-length plays.
The group is currently preparing for their winter showcase and have been hosting workshops for prospective writers. Writing workshops are Mondays and Thursdays in Wright Hall, Lab B. All students who wish to have their writing performed must attend at least two workshops to get second opinions on their pieces.
Third-year psychology major Kazia Hart is the secretary of DAS and said that she enjoys the fact that anyone who is interested in writing can have their work produced. DAS also offers directorial meetings for students who wish to try their hand at directing.
“We have a directors meeting where each director chooses a piece (or pieces) they’d like to direct,” Hart said. “We then hold auditions and anyone is welcome to audition, but we especially encourage students to try out. We try and include as many people as possible in the productions.”
Though most of the work reviewed often come in the form of plays or musicals, all types of performance art are accepted for the showcase. The purpose of this is to create an open-door policy in which all artists are allowed to express themselves, whether it is through dance, theatre, poetry, singing or anything else one might consider performance art.
Fourth-year English major Audrey Shih has been a part of DAS since her first year at UC Davis. She said she finds the group a place of friendship and has therefore kept it prevalent in her life.
“Everyone is so humble. There’s no elitism that comes with being a part of this club because we literally accept anyone and everyone who wants to join,” Shih said in a phone interview. “We provide a safe and welcoming space for those who want to experiment with all aspects of theatre. It’s not just a club for new, first time actors; it’s a club for new directors, dancers/choreographers, songwriters, stage managers, etc.”
Auditions for DAS’s upcoming showcase were held Feb. 5 and another will be held Feb. 6. The Winter Showcase will be held on March 10 in Wright Hall, Lab A. Doors open at 7:30 p.m and entry is free. For more information about auditions or becoming a part of DAS, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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