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Arts Are Alive with MTG

By Edward Grauman
Staff Reporter

The arts are alive and well at MIT. The Musical Theatre Guild provides a prime example of how students are getting involved in humanistic pursuits outside of the classroom.

"We're dedicated to fun," MTG President Robert J. Dyckman said. But recently MTG has focused on the quality of its shows, he continued. The group is currently in the process of applying for grants from the MIT Council for the Arts to start musical theater workshops. These workshops would allow students to develop their skills in the area of musical performance.

The MTG is also encouraging its members to take theater classes at MIT. MIT's theater department is "excellent," said Dyckman, who is majoring in theater.

The group has been fairly pleased with its success to date. Dyckman called this year's fall show, The Baker's Wife "pretty successful." Moreover, the Independent Activities Period show, Jesus Christ Superstar, did better than expected, selling out four of its six performances. The Guild recently performed The Apple Tree and is planning to perform Chess for its summer show.

Dyckman has found that one problem with MTG is that "the name of the show has a lot to do with the number of people who audition and come out for the production staff." For example, Jesus Christ Superstar had 70 people audition for about 25 spots, whereas students were considerably less interested in the other shows this year. In fact, the executive board ended up producing The Apple Tree because of a lack of interest in the positions. The group plans to remedy this problem by performing shows with name recognition that can also be done well.

Dyckman is optimistic about the future of MTG. "We have a strong group of freshmen this year. It is very encouraging," he said. "Auditions and production spots are open to anyone, and new members are always welcome."

"There's a lot of talent at MIT. Hopefully, we can foster that talent and help the theater community grow," he added. MTG has helped musical theater become a significant presence at MIT.

Dyckman describes the group an amateur musical theater group open to everyone. The group performs four musical productions each year.

Dyckman believes MTG is important because "it allows students of science and engineering to have an outlet for the arts." Guild members are exposed to all areas of theater production, from performing in the shows to producing their own shows. Students "can do something here they'll never have the opportunity to do again," Dyckman said.

MTG was formed more than 20 years ago, when Tech Show and a Gilbert and Sullivan group merged. Since then, MTG has grown into an organization which currently numbers around 120 members, most of whom are MIT undergraduates.

The MTG's executive board, elected twice a year, governs the group. The board is in charge of the day-to-day functioning of the Guild, as well as running auditions and interviews. The board conducts interviews to select the production staff for each particular show. Once a production staff is chosen, auditions are held.

Membership in MTG is determined by involvement with the group. As soon as a person is in any way involved with a show, he or she receives a one-year membership. Members can attend meetings, elect officers, and vote on shows. Ideas for shows are suggested by members, then narrowed down until one is selected. Shows are performed during the fall term, IAP, spring term, and summer session.