Forum: Protect student voices in theatre and the arts

A-rum-tum-tum-a-rum-tum-tum.

Little Sally Walker walking down the street. She didn’t know what to do so she walked in front of me. She sang “Hey girl, shake that thing!”

Yeehaw! Train!

If you’ve entered the F. Loren Winship Drama building on a Tuesday morning, these are some common phrases you’d hear being bellowed through every nook and cranny. The hallways, classroom and atrium are booming with life. You can hear the pitter-patter that are the graceful steps of dancers cascading across the building, the clinks and clanks of a wrench tightening a Par-40 onto a grid and the robust voices of actors and actresses reciting a monologue for an upcoming audition; these are the sounds of our resident artists and theatre makers here at the University of Texas at Austin. 

A proud group of theatre makers that contribute some of these sounds is the student organization, Alpha Psi Omega, Mu Chapter. Every semester they select three shows (a new work and two published) for their fall and spring season. This fall, they are debuting “The Extended Tale of Hero the Hero,” a new work written by undergraduate student Ian Alexander on Oct. 2. Following are two published shows directed by undergraduate students Ian Eisenberg and Jordan Moranto; “Dracula,” written by the Department of Theatre and Dance’s own Steven Dietz, opening Halloween weekend, and “Rumors,” written by Neil Simon, opening Nov. 4. Alpha Psi Omega and the Department of Theatre and Dance have done very well these past few years by getting the undergraduate voice involved and active in the theatre-making experience. 

Unfortunately, one sound that is not as prominent is the intonation of a steady stream of funding. Because of recent budget cuts, janitorial staff does not frequent the building as often as it used to, the furniture does not match the liveliness of its suitors, and major tracts have been cut or “put on hold” for the foreseeable future. Just recently, a new student pricing system has been implemented where students can buy a season-long ticket package at a discounted rate. However, this new ticket package is replacing a previously free system.

But for now, organizations such as Alpha Psi Omega, Round About Players and University Theatre Guild are working side-by-side with the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance to ensure that sounds of theatre makers are not deafened. They will continue yee-hawing, rum-tum-tumming and shaking that thing.

Andrew Valdez is a biology, pre-med and theatre and dance senior from Donna.