Prefrosh Preview: Arts at Georgetown

You know it's almost Halloween when there's a Performing Arts costume saleAs a famous breeding ground for future politicians, lawyers, and activists, Georgetown isn’t exactly the most welcoming place for the artistically inclined. You’re far more likely to come across the next Secretary of State than the next Tina Fey.

Creative types shouldn’t feel like they need to slink away to have solitary sob sessions while listening to Fiona Apple, however. Despite the university’s pre-professional bent, there are still a number of activities and organizations for the dreamy thespians, comedians, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, artists, and writers among you. Just don’t be surprised if the phrase “social justice” somehow creeps into a brainstorming session for the next experimental play.

Any discussion about arts on campus has to begin with the theater program, which was recently ranked the second best outside of New York. One of the only universities in the nation with a Theater & Performance Studies major for undergrads, Georgetown has made a name for itself by taking an interdisciplinary approach to teaching drama and taking on an excellent faculty to do so.

Outside of the department, student-run organizations include Mask & Bauble, the country’s oldest running collegiate troupe. Its 161st season was particularly noteworthy, featuring productions beyond the garden variety Shakespeare like the Tony-award-winning Spring Awakening and The History Boys.

For less mainstream material, there’s Nomadic Theater, whose greatest claim to fame has to be that The Hangover heartthrob Bradley Cooper once acted with them. Original plays from students are more rare, though there are opportunities like the Donn B. Murphy One Acts Festival for aspiring playwrights to get their work up on stage. All in all, it should be enough to get anyone with the slightest itch for the dramatic running to these tables at SAC Fair.

Comedians, look no further than Georgetown Improv. The only campus comedy troupe, Improv performs several weekend shows per semester in addition to hosting Improvfest, one of the oldest improv festivals in the country. The group boasts a host of famously funny alumni, including Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me), John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live), and Nick Kroll (The League). There have also been vague rustlings about starting a sketch comedy troupe, so hopefully that will become a reality soon enough.

For the musically inclined, there’s your classic range of competitive a cappella groups, including the coed Phantoms, Saxatones, and Superfood. There are also ensemble groups like the Concert Choir, Orchestra, and Jazz Band. While the student band scene is fairly small (but check out the comments below, where someone has kindly posted links to student bands!), there are occasional concerts (like WGTB’s “Battle of the Bands”) and regular open mics—hosted by both WGTB and the Corp—where you can belt out your heartbreak ballads. Dancers, GU Dance Company does a range of dance styles and is probably the greatest time commitment. If your secret talent is breakdancing, though, your best bet is probably Groove Theory.

Future Picassos and Spielbergs, your offerings are fairly limited to the programs within existing academic departments. Student groups for artists and filmmakers are basically nonexistent, so you need to put a little extra effort into finding like-minded individuals to embark on grand projects with. Vox recommends getting involved with the Film & Media Studies program for anyone hoping to make a film on campus, as they make it a lot easier for you (providing equipment, etc.) and host some cool events that allow you to meet badass alumni like Brit Marling (COL ’05) and Zal Batmanglij (COL ’02). The Georgetown Film Festival was also recently revived this year, so that’s the best place for you to showcase your work.

Finally, something—ahem—you probably haven’t heard of is the Corpus Collective, which is a group of some really talented slam poets. If you have the slightest inclination for reciting poetry in a way that sounds vaguely like Jay-Z, then Vox recommends you check them out.

Editor’s Note: Vox has taken the feedback into consideration and made appropriate changes. Incoming frosh—make sure you check out SAC fair in the beginning of the year! That’s where you’re meant to get a comprehensive list of all the student groups at Georgetown, and the place for every group to promote their own goals and activities. 

Photo: Audrey Wilson/Georgetown Voice

35 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: Arts at Georgetown

  1. But what if we like our solitary Fiona Apple sob sessions?

    Seriously though, if you’re interested in film especially, be vocal about it – plenty of cinephiles and aspiring filmmakers abound here and we’d love to meet you so we can rhapsodize about Kieslowski and Bergman while sharing our general disdain for Eastern European torture cinema.

  2. Even though the band scene at Georgetown is pretty small, there are a lot of talented musicians out there. You can take a 1 credit class called Guild of Bands where you and/or a band performs for a professor who then critics you. He’s pretty legit too (drums for Aretha sometimes). That class has concerts about once a semester and the Corp hosts a battle of the bands about that often as well. Just ask around and keep an eye out and you can totally get into the scene.

  3. In addition to what Band Fan said, WGTB is a great hub for student musicians. Totally willing to work with you or promote your music. Also started a record label last year: https://www.facebook.com/HilltopRecordsDC. They have a ton of open mics and battle of the bands as well that Vox has covered in the past, too. Also, the Corp produces a series of videos featuring student musicians. There has been plenty going on with music at Georgetown in the past year if you’re paying attention.

  4. This piece doesn’t accurately represent the music scene at Georgetown; it’s not something that can be summarized in half a paragraph.

    First, the Corp isn’t the only organization that showcases student music. WGTB has hosted open mics every semester for the past several years, the majority of which have been packed. ‘The Strummer Games’, the battle of the bands in spring 2013, drew a crowd of nearly 200 to Bulldog Alley. The winning band, Betsy and the Bicycles, has gone on to perform at venues around Washington DC. A number of the other performers, including Danny and the Dark, Law Abiding Criminals, and Mellenfolly, have made professional recordings. The student music scene exists and is flourishing. Saying, “The Voice can’t name a single [student band],” well, that’s just proof that you didn’t actually ask your staff this question, as I’ve seen several of your writers, photographers, and editors at WGTB events. You should be even more embarrassed because several of the people on your masthead are STUDENT MUSICIANS THEMSELVES.

    Second, you fail to mention that the a cappella groups are extracurricular activities, while the other ensembles are classes for which students must register. An incoming freshman could find this information misleading. They need to register and be prepared for auditions for class-based groups like orchestra, jazz ensemble, chamber music, Guild of Bands, and chamber singers, within their first week at Georgetown.

    Third, WGTB hosts a concert featuring rising artists every semester, for which student bands almost always open. Law Abiding Criminals, Tate Tucker/Cabaret, and Betsy and the Bicycles opened for US Royalty, ZZ Ward, and Kids These Days, respectively.

    Fourth, with apologies for redundancy and my personal bias, WGTB is one of the biggest student organizations on campus and is the best place to find the highest concentration of music lovers. While we support sports, news, and talk programming, most of our DJs play music from every genre under the sun. We cover concerts, student music, album reviews, and pretty much anything music-related on our blog, The Rotation (http://georgetownradio.com/blog).

    Finally, you fail to mention that Georgetown offers a music minor, a major in American Musical Culture, and classes in everything from music theory to rock history. The faculty in the music department are some of the biggest names in their fields.

    As a music lover, concerned student, and a student leader at Georgetown, I find this post shamefully inaccurate and in need of revision. I’m happy to discuss any of Georgetown’s offerings for music lovers, from academics to performance opportunities.

  5. I concur with WGTB GM that this sinks below Vox’s usual level of shittiness.

  6. Maybe Georgetown’s student band scene wouldn’t be so underground if anyone actually listened to WGTB.

  7. Really disappointed with how inaccurately Georgetown’s artistic culture is portrayed. As a music enthusiast, aspiring filmmaker and avid supporter of on-campus arts, I can personally attest to how much Georgetown has to offer the artistically intrigued if you so choose to get involved. As mentioned prior, WGTB has continued to be a resource for student music on campus. Vocal ensembles, student band performances, open mic nights etc. all occur on campus on an almost weekly basis. The Film and Media Studies program (along with Gelardin’s equipment) are a tremendous resource for all things film and television related. The numerous student groups centered on the arts and alumni across industries only help to encourage a life-long involvement in the arts.

    To saturate incoming students with the impression that Georgetown is a government-driven creative wasteland serves no purpose but to perpetuate the inaccurate belief that the arts don’t thrive on campus. To any incoming student interested in the arts, do not lose hope. Ask around and you’ll be sure to find yourself surrounded by the artists and visionaries of tomorrow.

  8. It’s true, WGTB doesn’t get a lot of listeners, and the ones it does get are often friends of the hosts. Not terribly unusual for student radio stations.

    That having been said, WGTB GM is absolutely right that this post does a total disservice to music at Georgetown. The program’s not huge, but it does cover a lot of ground. In addition to orchestra/jazz band/wind ensemble, there are instrumental chamber ensembles that you can audition for. They’re offered pass-fail as either non-credit or one-credit options, and taking the same ensemble for credit four times counts as one class towards an AMC major or music minor. There are only a couple of full-time, tenure-track music faculty, but the ones there are are excellent, and there are a number of non-ordinary faculty members who add talent and variety.

    I also have to give two plugs for two of my former groups, the pep band (do you want to make good friends, go to athletic events for free, and play a lot of fun music?) and GU Melody (do you want to go to the YMCA afterschool program and teach kids about music?). Georgetown doesn’t have a performance major, and it may not be the first place musicians think of when they look at schools with an emphasis on music, but there are a lot of opportunities to play, study, and make friends with other musicians.

  9. This is offensive, especially to the group of alums who for the past 4/5 years tried to establish both a literary and music scene at the school. Underground is only underground once the press has successfully homogenized the available outlets. The problem here isn’t the lack of an artistic scene, but a surplus of people who lack the vision to see the resources that the school has to offer – a lack of vision that contributes to the misconception that there is a lack of artistry in the first place. sounds like georgetown.

  10. i agree with the comments above, especially those of the WGTB GM. Thank you for speaking up! To say that creative people must “put a little extra effort into finding like-minded individuals” is totally undercutting the versatility and depth of talent that I see every day in the Georgetown student body. I think that the arts programs at Georgetown have increased in size and opportunity over the last few years, and both students and faculty are working together to ensure its continued success and growth. Please do a little more research on these pre-frosh previews to make sure that you aren’t misleading these incoming students.

  11. I found this article fairly asinine in that it did little more than summarize the descriptions of student groups and programs that one might find on Georgetown’s website, rather than getting some information from various student arts groups themselves, which is ostensibly the goal of a newspaper. From a philosophic perspective, a newspaper columnist should seek to aggregate information from various sources in a way that adds more value than the sum of its parts. Quoting all the groups involved in the arts at Georgetown does not qualify in that respect. Let’s step our game up, Vox.

  12. I can’t believe GM is making some fuss over this silly article on Vox. Who gives a shit? It’s four sentences.

  13. As a prominent member of the “underground” georgetown band scene, I’m pretty offended by this article. It honestly looks like you just copy and pasted this information from the Georgetown website. Why don’t you try supporting the arts instead of writing an article about how the music scene essentially doesn’t exist? I know that all of the bands would be more than happy to be featured in some way online.

    Also, The Voice does an artist highlight page every issue. Maybe you should read your own newspaper.

  14. As a former member of WGTB, I also found the music and arts scene to be passionate and growing. Sure, the radio station doesn’t get many listeners, but the organization itself is much bigger than that. When I was on the team, we brought Girl Talk, Best Coast, Real Estate, Dan Deacon, Hood Internet, and more. The organization is a great outlet for those who look. Don’t be discouraged by this article.

  15. A pretentious conversation about obscure music scenes and events and no one thought to invite me???

  16. OMG VOX HOW DARE YOU NOT DEVOTE 12 PARAGRAPHS TO A NUANCED ARTICLE ABOUT A SINGLE STUDENT GROUP. I AM SO OFFENDED THAT YOUR PREVIEW DOES NOT MAKE ME FEEL SPECIAL ON THE INSIDE. CAN’T YOU TELL THAT I AND MY GROUP ARE SO IMPORTANT THAT NOT PORTRAYING ME IN THE WAY I WANT BOTH MAKES YOU A BAD JOURNALIST AND PERSON?????

  17. Proud of the georgetown band scene right now, let’s make it a great year

  18. I just wish that WGTB and Vox could try to work together to promote the art/music scene, rather than undermine each other’s work. Yes, the music scene is growing at Georgetown, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t use a little more publicity, aka press help! Hope this episode doesn’t hurt a relationship between Vox and WGTB that could be extremely useful now more than ever, since the student/local music scene is better than ever before.

  19. So glad to see members of the music community writing here to support the music scene (and glad to see edits to the article to include WGTB’s [super fun and cool] events). While we may not be at a university known for its music scene, that scene is growing and is always exciting. As the WGTB GM said, we have had shows of both visiting rising artists and Georgetown bands that draw large, fun crowds. The Georgetown bands have loyal followings among my friends at school, and I’ve even gotten a few friends from home hooked on their music. Honestly, if the author of this article can’t name a single student band, she may not have many friends in the arts, and maybe shouldn’t be the one writing this article. It’s not as though these bands are sitting in the shadows of their Facebook pages and WGTB, either. I’ve attended at least three independent shows of Georgetown bands at Epicurean or other venues – unrelated to WGTB or the Corp – which were packed with friends and casual fans.

    In addition, though this may not be considered “the arts” by some, there are thriving religiously-inclined music groups on campus as well – the Chapel Choir, the 7:30 Mass Choir/Band, the Spanish Mass Choir, and the Gospel Choir, to name most of them. There are clearly many creative outlets for musicians and music-lovers here at Georgetown. Don’t be discouraged, future students!

  20. I was getting frustrated with these comments by shamelessly self-promoting WGTB people, until I saw alumagain’s comment about the Hoya’s “blog”. That person is either the editor of that blog or said editor’s mother, because it is literally the worst blog in the entire blogosphere.

    Literally.

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