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Student groups resort to stairwells as dance groups dominate performance spaces

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A student group performs on one of the coveted campus stages.
Courtesy of Lauren Owens

The following content is purely satirical and entirely fictional.

Every weekend, Princeton’s lively performing arts scene offers many opportunities to see student productions. From improv comedy to rock concerts to musicals to slam poetry to ballet, Princeton creatives seem to be up to a little bit of everything.


However, the limitations imposed by the University’s inadequate number of performance venues are a constant topic of contention, and the burdens are not equally shared between student groups.  

Major dance groups on campus such as Slizikrac, ASSertion, and The Red Army call the shots, forcing other performing arts groups to the sidelines — literally. Last semester Talk Straight slam poetry held an open mic night at the tennis courts on the E-Level of Jadwin Gymnasium. Without the equitable access to theaters and other performance venues that these dance groups have enjoyed in years past, non-dance groups have begun to hold shows in some unorthodox locations, most notably bathrooms, science laboratories, the site of the demolition of 1937 Hall, and Wawa.

“We were scheduled to have our show in Frist, but Slizikrac kicked us out to hold their biweekly caviar-tasting event,“ said Soph Unny ’23, president of Soft Balls improv comedy. “We couldn’t find another venue and ended up just walking down the hall in Whitman doing little performances for people as they walked to the bathroom to brush their teeth or whatever. It wasn’t as successful as we had hoped.”

Similarly, Thea Terkid ’24, the treasurer of PUBE (Princeton University Broadway Ensemble) said, “Last week our production of The Lion King went up in the EEB building, but it was hard to fit many chairs in the stairway we were performing in. It’s not all bad, though. Our final show of the semester is going to be Urinetown, which we’re putting on in the second-floor Laughlin men’s bathroom. We chose this space because we thought it would allow us to put an original spin on the classic story, not just because it was the only place still available on Event Management System.”

Students say they don’t expect any changes in the near future. ODUS has declined to comment on whether they are taking any initiatives to make performance space access more equitable and keep the dance groups in check. 

In the past, the only way student organizations have been able to guarantee themselves a venue is when alumni have donated spaces specifically for them.


“It’s not like we have many ORFE or COS concentrators wanting to be in ‘Mamma Mia!’ or ‘Shrek The Musical,’” Terkid said. “Our alums tend more toward History and that kind of thing, so we don’t exactly have money pouring in.”

Lauren Owens is a sophomore Humor writer and a proud member of PUP, the constant rival of the more professional organization PUBE.

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