Do not expect a full adaptation of Cats with complete costumes and accompanying orchestra from Xperimental Theatre anytime soon. Started in 1996 in response to student demand for more unconventional theater, the Xperimental Theatre, known as the X, has led the way in its mission to present diverse works that are challenging and innovative. It’s a forum for students to direct, produce, and participate in more varying productions then is offered on the University Theatre’s main stage (whose fall season includes Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and Cole Porter’s Anything Goes). Twelve to fifteen productions are featured each year and all are free of charge to the audience.
The X Theatre is run by an elected board of both undergraduate and graduate students. Each year proposals, which can be from anyone within the University, are submitted to the board for review and considered for the following season. The board looks for productions that will bring variety to the X Theatre and offer something new, unique, and feasible. But that is not to say the board would not consider some adaptation of a Broadway play, as long as it fit within the confines of the theatre.
Between fifteen and twenty students take part in each production under the work under the guidance of a student director. Student workshops distribute the direction among the actors. All aspects of the productions – performing, writing, scenery, lighting, costume design, and promotion, are carried out by students. There is no direct faculty supervision,
Shows are performed in the Charles Nolte Xperimental Theatre, in the lower level of the Rarig Center on the West Bank — a box-style theatre with no permanent seats or stage. Stage design and creation begins like a blank canvas, allowing for the construction of the set to suit specific productions. Past shows have seen the stage set up as “in-the-round,” with the audience surrounding the entire stage. Other shows offer the opposite as the audience sits in the middle as the show takes place around them.
In past seasons the X has had maximum attendance – requiring that reservations be made in advance.