The oldest theater group on campus gave its final performance Tuesday of its second play this season. No, it wasn’t the Department of Performing Arts (“A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,” runs through this weekend). Rather, the play, “Career Day,” was performed by the Marquette University Players Society, a student organization devoted to allowing students in any field of study to be a part of theater at Marquette.
MUPS was created in 1925, and was one of the first student organizations on campus. According to MUPS co-president Jessica Orr, a senior in the College of Communication, the organization was founded prior to the creation of the theater major and department at Marquette.
She said students formed MUPS to create an avenue for theater enthusiasts when there were no other options on campus. While the university eventually created a separate theater department, Orr said MUPS still exists to create theater opportunities for both theater majors and non-majors.
“There are a lot of different varieties of people in MUPS,” Orr said.
However, many of MUPS’ 50 to 60 regular members are theater majors, simply because MUPS and the theater department work so closely together. MUPS co-technical director Andrea Schoening, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said it’s usually expected that when you join the theater department, you become a part of MUPS.
“It goes hand in hand,” Schoening said.
Schoening entered the theater department as an actor, but now has a technical and directing focus within her major. She said MUPS allows her and other theater students to work on more shows than they otherwise would be able to.
“It gives a lot of people a lot more opportunities,” Schoening said.
For some, MUPS can be the first step toward the mainstage. More publicized mainstage productions are run by the theater department, and are designed and intended for theater majors.
Allie Bonesho, a MUPS sophomore in the College of Communication, said she auditioned for a MUPS show, “Anton and Show Business,” the first week of school last year and received a role.
Since then, Bonesho has “graduated” to mainstage performances, including “Censored on Final Approach,” and the upcoming “Sunday in the Park with George.”
While Bonesho said her appearance in “Anton and Show Business” didn’t guarantee her a mainstage role, she feels MUPS can help students interested in theater demonstrate their skill.
“The good thing about MUPS is it is a way to show off your ability to act … even if you’re not on the mainstage,” Bonesho said.
But MUPS isn’t just about theater majors. Schoening said because theater majors have to be part of one mainstage show in some capacity each semester, more roles in MUPS shows are open to non-theater majors.
Bonesho said MUPS is good for non-theater majors because it is a small time commitment, allowing students to continue acting in college.
“It lets them keep going with their passion,” Bonesho said.
Orr said MUPS will put on two more shows this year. The first show will likely be a student-written musical, while the second play will be a larger play dealing with alcohol awareness.
But Orr said MUPS is about more than putting on shows. She said they host both a Christmas party and a year-end banquet called “MUPSfest” for all members.
At these events, she said, MUPS members form groups and perform “ridiculous” skits for each other.
In the end, Orr said, MUPS is about bringing theater to students, both in the audience and on stage.
“My favorite part of MUPS is the relationships you build in these shows,” Orr said.
It’s a sentiment Bonesho and Schoener echo.
“I feel most at home when I’m on the stage,” Bonesho said.
Schoener said she might even consider auditioning for an acting role in a MUPS show again, since the feeling of a MUPS show is different from the mainstage.
“MUPS is just fun,” Schoener said.