Friday, February 8, 2008

The Shows Should Go On -- But They Won't

There aren't going to be any more musicals on campus for a while, because -- apparently -- when you have a lot of people singing and dancing, it makes a lot of noise.

Singing and dancing causing a ruckus? I'm just as shocked as you are. But I can't say I'm surprised that GW is trying to keep student groups from using space on campus. It's just another instance of the administration acting like a business rather than a school. I'm sure everyone has their own horror story of trying to organize an event for a group on campus, only to be told all the good spaces have been taken by non-GW-affiliated groups. Bureaucracy is one thing -- it's necessary and keeps things organized, and a manageable amount of red tape keeps everything running. But when student organizations are consistently passed over for lucrative outside groups looking for a place to hold a conference, something has gone wrong. We're a campus, not a convention center, and space allocation should reflect that. From the Hatchet:

"We're basically forgoing revenue-producing rentals in the space so that students can produce their musical," Schario said. "It's an excellent theater but it's not something they can have access to all the time. We're having daily conversations about how to make sure students can rehearse and perform, and a lot of what this involves is some flexibility on everyone's part."
"Not something students can have access to all the time"? Okay, they shouldn't be living there (well, except during tech week, as any theater person can tell you), but denying student groups space merely because of financial issues is ridiculous. Unless GW has some undisclosed financial issues it's not letting on about, guarding these spaces so jealously is repugnant.

I'm sure there are legitimate sound issues in play here. And certainly I don't want anyone's performances wrecked by bleeding sound -- either professionals or student groups. But students deserve a space on campus, and they shouldn't be punished for an issue that the administration is only now choosing to address. (How long has the space needed soundproofing, anyway? How long have musicals been performed in the downstage? Is GW really only now aware of this problem, or is this a punishment for, perhaps, an unexpected nude scene in a musical earlier this year?)

I'm an erstwhile actor (you should see my Second Tree From the Left in Midsummer Night's Dream) and I've performed in some pretty terrible spaces. That's nothing new. But not even being allowed to perform -- and being passed over in favor of outside groups willing to pay more -- is a reminder of the sad priorities of the administration.

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