Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society
This Had Better Come To A Stop
The Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society of Georgetown University is the oldest continuously running collegiate theatre troupe in the United States. Today, the Society is one of five theatre groups on the Georgetown campus and is entirely student-run. In its 161st Season, the group continues to provide an opportunity for students to develop artistic, technical, and administrative skills, while performing high-quality theatre.
Mask and Bauble was founded in 1852 as The Dramatic Association of Georgetown College, staging its first show, Pizarro, a play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, on February 27, 1853. World War I priorities caused a suspension of its activities, and after the war the group was revived with the new name of Mask and Bauble. The society was the first of its kind to use female actresses in 1922, as female roles were previously filled by male actors. It formally accepted female members in 1934.
During this time the Society had a close relationship with the Roosevelt White House, withEleanor Roosevelt as a society patron. During the Eisenhower and Kennedyadministrations, student technicians from the group assisted with the technical aspects of some of the nation’s first televised presidential press conferences. This intimate relationship with the White House was nurtured by the society’s faculty adviser, Donn B. Murphy, who also served as theatrical adviser to Kennedy and Johnson. Murphy served until 1976, although he remains involved with Georgetown theatre. The Society’s annual playwright contest and one acts festival bears his name, and promotes student-written plays.
Mask and Bauble performs in Poulton Hall’s Stage Three, on the Georgetown campus. This theater space, part of the university, was occupied by students from the group over spring break in 1975. Unsatisfied with university commitment to theater, they squatted in what was previously Room 57, and built a makeshift theater they named Stage Two. The university forced this to be taken down, but built the group a small theater in Poulton Hall, which became Stage Three. Stage One was then converted into the scene and costume shop. While the club’s alumni were very active in raising money to build Georgetown’s new Davis Performing Arts Center, the society and other student groups have been restricted from using the Center’s main theatre due to their insistence on maintaining student, rather than faculty, direction. In 2009, Mask & Bauble co-produced Caroline, or Change with the Black Theater Ensemble and the Department of Performing Arts on the main stage of the Davis center, making it the first student directed play on the Gonda Stage.
Club membership hovers around 90-100 students, making it the largest theatre group on Georgetown’s campus.