Arts groups integrate new members after fall auditions

by Amelia Rosch | 9/28/15 7:40pm

As the fall term continues along, so does the process of student groups welcoming in new members. While all groups have their own rituals and traditions for how they bring new members into the fold, theater and improv groups use a mix of classic methods like wakeups and crazier tactics — think a trip to Everything But Anchovies and bowling.

Kaija Stern ’18, a member of the Rude Mechanicals Shakespeare troupe, said that the group uses a variety of methods to make new members feel welcome. She says that the Rude Mechanicals have done “wakeups” for the past two years, where they go to new members’ dorms and then take them out for a meal at Everything But Anchovies.

“Everyone is in flair, including us,” she said.

Drew Zwetchkenbaum ’16, a member of the improv group Casual Thursday, says that the group also does wakeups for its new members, before taking them on “an adventure.”

The Rude Mechanicals make an effort to reach out to new students at the very start of term. Stern said that recruiting freshmen before they begin at the College is important for the group, which usually has a booth at the activities fair during Orientation and one at the activities fair during Dimensions.

“We had people at Dimensions [of Dartmouth] who were interested in joining us even before the fall,” she said.

Zwetchkenbaum said that Casual Thursday advertises itself to first-years through shows, campus-wide emails and flyers early in the fall term, as well as through an open workshop with the Dog Day Players, another campus improv group.

Stern said that this year, the Rude Mechanicals had one of their biggest groups of auditionees in recent memory, with around 25 to 30 people trying out. She said that the group ended up accepting six members — four men and two women. Both women are members of the Class of 2018. Last year, the group accepted five new members.

The audition process for Rude Mechanicals involves both monologue and scene-based tryouts, member Claire Feuille ’18 said.

“It’s really fun to introduce new people to the world of student theater,” she said.

Zwetchkenbaum said that Casual Thursday accepted four new members of the 40 first-years who auditioned for the group.

“The feeling of bringing new people into the group is always one of the most exciting, amazing experiences you have in a group. Often it involves staying up really late and spending the majority of the day — 12 or 15 hours in a day — being with people and talking amongst the group about who we want to let in, but there is such a high, such an excitement, at the end of it,” Avery Feingold ’17, head of the Rude Mechanicals, said.

Stern also emphasized the importance of integrating new members into the troupe. She said that the group makes an effort to reach out to new members and make them feel more welcome through group dinners and social events.

“It encourages us to meet everyone one on one and gives new members a chance to sit down and talk with us,” she said.

Zwetchkenbaum said that Casual Thursday uses a variety of social events, including brunches, trips to pumpkin patches and bowling, to help bring the new members into the group.

Both Stern and Zwetchkenbaum said that normal practices also play a large role in helping to bring new members in with the group.

“Practice is just quality time with us being goofy with each other,” Zwetchkenbaum said.

Feuille echoed his sentiments.

“I really enjoy being at rehearsal because we all sort of direct each other, and it’s a really fun process to be part of,” she said.

Stern said that intra-group auditions for the term’s show also help new members get closer to the current members, due to the amount of time they spend working together.

“It’s six or seven hours all in the same room,” she said. “It jumpstarts the bonding process pretty quickly.”