With more than 45 different student-run performing arts organizations and more than 60 performances each year, Penn's arts and culture scene is both visible and vibrant.
From a cappella groups to dance troupes, there are plenty of opportunities to share your talents on campus. Here's an overview of a few of the most prominent performing arts groups at Penn:
The Mask and Wig Club
Mask and Wig, founded by 1891 College graduate Clayton Fotterall McMichael, is the oldest all-male collegiate musical comedy troupe in the country. At the start of each academic year, Mask and Wig puts on a production free for all freshmen. Soon after, the club holds auditions for new members. Even Penn President Amy Gutmann has been known to take in a Mask and Wig performance from time to time.
Bloomers is Penn's all-female musical and sketch comedy troupe. Founded in 1978, Bloomers is named after Amelia Jenks Bloomer, the famous women's rights advocate of the 1800s. In addition to their two annual shows, Bloomers also organizes LaughtHERfest, a yearly festival held each September honoring women in comedy. Previous LaughtHERfest guests have included 2004 College graduate, Bloomers alumna and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Vanessa Bayer.
African American Arts Alliance
The African American Arts Alliance, or 4A, is a theater group whose mission is to promote black culture through the arts. Acclaimed productions from previous years include stagings of Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls." This year, the group celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Masala is the world's first South Asian a cappella group. The talented performers were notably featured in the popular comedy film "Pitch Perfect 2," directed by 1996 College graduate Elizabeth Banks. Last summer, Masala made its Middle East debut when they performed in Dubai.
The Shabbatones is a Jewish a cappella group founded in 2001. The group performs a mix of American, Jewish and Israeli music. In 2014, the Shabbatones, along with Penn Glee Club and Penn Sori, performed at the White House holiday parties for former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama. The group recently released its eighth album, titled "One in a Minyan."
Simply Chaos is Penn's only stand-up comedy group. Members of Simply Chaos have performed with professional comedians such as Bill Burr and Aziz Ansari. The group recently performed at a Spring Fling event for Orthodox Jewish students who did not attend the Spring Fling concert due to the Sabbath.
Stimulus Children's Theatre Company
Stimulus was founded in the 1980s and has provided entertainment for the children of Philadelphia ever since. Stimulus has performed at elementary schools, hospitals, community centers and day care facilities. Their most recent production was a musical adaptation of "The Little Prince."
For a complete list of Penn's officially recognized performing arts groups, visit the Performing Arts Council's website. New students can also attend the Performing Arts Council's annual Freshman Performing Arts Night at the start of the academic year to see a sample of each group's work.
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