On the very far south side of the University Center for the Arts, a member of the Young Producers Organization holds a door open. Not as a courtesy, but as a necessity. As a glitch in the workings of a new organization, the problem of locked UCA doors has yet to be solved for YPO.
“Because the doors are locked, we have to have someone stand and hold the door open to kind of sneak people into our shows. It’s been kind of underground,” Judd Farner, a junior theater major and the artistic director of YPO, said with laughter in his voice.
As a new theater production organization at CSU, the locked UCA doors are not the only doors that YPO has opened for students who are zealous about the performing arts. YPO is an organization made up of students and faculty who work to provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience with all sides of theater production.
And there is only one requirement to be involved.
“We just want to know that you have an idea and are willing to commit yourself to it and explore it,” Farner said.
The roots of YPO are buried within the Alpha Psi Omega honors fraternity and its four members who organized a fundraising gala last March. The fundraiser, which Farner said served as YPO’s inauguration, was a compilation of 15-minute-long theatrical performances.
As a formal organization, YPO will have put on 12 shows over the course of the 2008-2009 school year, including a freshman showcase, a fundraising Gala featuring student performances, a One-Act festival and monthly productions under a YPO program called Zing! — the group’s pseudo dinner theater.
“It’s kind of enforcing our theater community we have,” said Alex Ostwald, a freshman theater major and the Zing! general manager. “They (those involved) get that chance to fail without it hurting their reputation or losing a job.”
Although the CSU theater department offers a variety of performance opportunities throughout the year, Seth Walter, a senior theater and political science double major and the communication director for YPO, said the organization brings fresh options to the community.
He said it gives students the chance to be “the creative side,” of a theater production because they are writing, directing and performing shows, opposed to performing shows written by professors and professionals.
“We are giving them a chance to really get their feet wet in anything and everything that’s involved in a theater production,” he said.
In the past, CSU students have never been offered performance opportunities other than a main stage show, which has made it challenging for YPO members to get people on board for their smaller shows, Farner said.
While the main focus of the organization right now is gaining people’s interest, YPO hopes to expand and become sturdier in the future. Farner said the long-term goal of the organization is to create something with a structure and form that allows students to focus on their work in all areas of theater production.
“The format we were creating kind of called for offering students more opportunities to try new things in theater and provide students an environment to work on their art,” he said.
“We set it up so there never has to be a bored theater student,” he added later.
And although most of the founders of the organization are theater majors, Farner said their focus with YPO is helping students put together shows. This includes scheduling and arranging advertising for the shows, as well as encouraging students to use the theater space they have in a variety of ways.
YPO works out of the Large Acting Lab in the UCA, a space with a maximum occupancy of 50, so student groups are made up of ten people or less in order to reserve room for at least 40 audience members. Students who would like to create a Zing! performance are required to fill out a short application, receive a $50 budget for their show and are required to write a two page reflective essay stating what they learned through their experience. Group directors are offered university credit for the work they do, a bit of a bargaining tactic, Farner said.
“It’s (YPO) in hopes that we can help people take advantage of their lives and take control of where their career is going,” Farner said.
Entertainment Editor Cece Wildeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.