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Life on the Quads
A Centennial View of
the Student Experience at the
University of Chicago
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Plastered in Paris, Blackfriars program, 1927.

Plastered in Paris, Blackfriars program, 1927. Blackfriars shows of the 1920s were "becoming jazzier," proclaimed this program, and "the stages featured are each year more sensational, the choruses larger and better trained." Plastered in Paris met the challenge of rising expectations with a satiric skewering of expatriate Americans on the Left Bank.

The Performing Arts

The postwar years were also a fruitful time for student comedy. In 1950, students organized a new theatrical venture, Tonight at 8:30, led by a group that included Paul Sills (Ex 1952), Severn Darden (Ex 1950), Ed Asner (Ex 1948), and Mike Nichols (Ex 1953), and began the series of stage experiments that soon moved to off-campus locations. The Playwright's Theater, the Compass Players, and eventually the Second City improvisational troupes were the famous progeny of this student enterprise.

Student drama took another important step in 1955, when Hutchinson Court was converted into a summer performance space under the name Court Theatre. Through the 1960s, Court presented a succession of plays drawn from the classics and staged by a resourceful group of students, amateurs, and a sprinkling of professional actors. In the 1970s, Court Theatre was transformed into a year-round professional and resident ensemble, and in 1981 it moved info permanent quarters in its new building at the north edge of the campus. On other stages, student theater retained its vitality with continuing productions of University Theater in Reynolds Club and new experimental ventures such as Off Off Campus.

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