Deep End APO is one of St. Olaf’s primary theater produc- tion groups, unique on campus in that it is run entirely by stu- dents. Recently, Deep End APO has encountered a problem: it is no longer allowed to perform in residence halls. The policy change was enacted this year and has made it difficult for the organization to find proper performance locations.
“We were surprised and concerned initially, because we were planning to use dorm space for our productions this year,” Deep End APO Artistic Director Seton FitzMacken ’17 said.
Deep End APO has used dorms as its primary performance, practice and general meeting space for a number of years. This is FitzMacken’s first year on the board for Deep End, and she did not expect such a big change.
“We contacted [Residence Life] in October, to use a space in Thorson for November, and that was when they informed us the policy change had occurred in response to last year,” she said.
FitzMacken believes it was due to increased sound com- plaints. Deep End APO operates on a relatively low budget and has a difficult time finding places to perform. FitzMacken wor- ries it will be hard to find places with proper seating. While she expressed frustration, FitzMacken does believe that the policy change was not unreasonable, and she is confident in her ability to work with Residence Life. She emphasized that there was no animosity between Deep End APO and Residence Life.
“This semester and next semester we hope to establish a better relationship with Residence Life, and to work together to think about the needs for the dorms and creating a more friendly environment between us,” FitzMacken said. “We have other places to perform, like the Art Barn in November, and we will just have to be a little bit more creative with where we perform.”
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell emphasized that this change does not only apply to Deep End APO. She felt the change was necessary for the residents of the dorms where these performances occur.
“We have gotten a lot of student complaints, due to some of the material being very provocative, and these are people’s liv- ing environment and it was too much and too overwhelming,” she said.
McDowell made it clear that not only the performances but
also the practices took these lounges and other locations in resi- dence halls away from the residents.
“A lot of these residence halls do not have that much lounge space,” she said. “This year we got many requests, and we gave some space in Ytterboe Hall, and I felt that these are sup- posed to be lounges and it was not working out well with these groups.”
Mellby Hall was the last site of performances and was the catalyst for new regulation on where students can perform. On
the subject of improv shows and other performances, McDow- ell said those are possible, and she emphasized that the problem is “student led shows where they are going to have multiple per- formances and practices.”
Both Residence Life and Deep End APO are trying to work together to find suitable spaces to perform and practice, while being mindful of dorm residents. Next year will be an interest- ing time for both groups as they further define where perfor- mances can and cannot take place.