Do Student Voices

A Guide To On-Campus Theater At U of R

The arts are a large part of Rochester’s culture. As a result, this is reflected on campus through instrumental ensembles, choirs, acapella groups, dance groups, and of course, theater associations. Below you will find some information about the multiple theater organizations at the University of Rochester.

International Theater Program / Todd Theater

On campus, there is both the university-run theater program, as well as student-run theater organizations. The university-run theater program, known as the International Theater Program (ITP), operates in a building called Todd Union, so many students refer to their productions simply as “Todd” productions. 

Todd typically produces two main-stage shows a semester. These are almost always straight plays, and they usually produce one musical every four years. The first Todd show of the year takes place during Meliora Weekend (our alumni and parent weekend in October). Since this is early in the year, auditions for this production usually occur at the end of the prior spring semester, meaning first-years are unable to participate in this production as actors. Auditions for the second production in the fall and for both productions in the spring take place at the start of the respective semesters.  

In addition to the four main-stage productions, Todd typically holds three other events: 24@Todd, a One-Act Play Festival, and URPerforming. 24@Todd is held during orientation week, and consists of students writing, directing, designing, and performing a short play within 24 hours. This event is open to everyone and is the first theatrical event of the school year. The One-Act Play Festival happens annually, and all of the plays are student written, designed, acted, and directed along with funding and assistance from Todd. URPerforming is a talent-show type event that is open to all university student talent. It is a two-day event of performances that results in cash prizes for winners. 

A major pro of working on a Todd production as an actor, stage manager, or assistant director is that credit is often attached to your participation. Working on a production can get you 4 or 5 credits that you can apply to a theater cluster, stage management certification, or Theater major offered through the English Department. However, credit is usually only given to students working on the mainstage shows. 

Todd is also a place of employment for a lot of students. Students interested in working behind the scenes can get positions building sets, working as prop assistants, working in the costume shop, or working in the box office on show nights. 

Use the website’s resources to find information about audition sign-ups or how to get involved with Todd in any avenue, including stage management, assistant directing, or working behind the scenes.

The Opposite of People Theater Company (TOOP)

The Opposite of People, almost always referred to as TOOP, is one of the student-run theater organizations on campus. Students act in, direct, stage manage, produce, design (lights, costumes, props, sound, etc) every production. TOOP puts on at least one straight play semester (sometimes more, depending on the semester),   and their shows are also always free of charge. 

TOOP is a closed group, meaning you audition to get into the group before being able to participate in any productions. You can audition to get into the group as an actor, designer, director, writer, or stage manager, and the elements of an audition are different depending on what you want to do for the group. For example, an initial audition for an actor may consist of a monologue and a few questions from group members, whereas a writing audition may consist of a writing sample of one of your theatrical works. If you are invited to be a part of TOOP, however, you are free to do whatever you want in regards to working on a production. For example, you can get into the group after auditioning as an actor, and end up sound designing for a production instead. 

TOOP is also big on creating student-written work. A committee of TOOP, called the TOOP Writer’s Guild (TWiG) often meets weekly to write theatrical work that ends up being produced as a TOOP production. Overall, TOOP showcases  both student-written and established productions.

TOOP requires no prior theater experience, and is also a very social group, holding weekly social hours in addition to meetings. Also, TOOP shows occur in Drama House (located on the Frat Quad), so group members also get to transform the Main Room into a performance space, which is often an exciting task. 

You can learn more about TOOP on their website, Facebook page, or by following them on Instagram @thisbetoop.

ROC Players

Another entirely student-run theater organization is ROC Players. Much like TOOP, students in ROC Players act in, direct, design, and produce their shows on their own. However, ROC Players specializes in musical theater, producing one full-length musical per semester. They are also an open group, meaning anyone can audition for their semesterly productions or get involved in the group by assisting in all other aspects such as designing, producing, and directing. 

Credit: Instagram @urrocplayers

ROC Players performs their shows in the May Room, located on the fourth floor of Wilson Commons. Students are involved in constructing a stage and set in this location, while utilizing campus resources to create lighting and sound designs. 

No experience is necessary to join ROC Players, and even if you are having a busy semester, you can still actively support the group and their productions by attending weekly meetings to stay in the loop. ROC Players welcomes students to apprentice under upperclassmen to learn skills in directing or designing before taking on these roles in future productions. Every production has a Production Team, and ROC Players dedicates themselves to finding a spot for anyone who wishes to work on a show.

You can learn more about ROC Players by following them on Instagram @urrocplayers, or by checking out their website and Facebook page.

Off Broadway On Campus (OBOC)

OBOC is the university’s longest-running musical theater organization. Entirely student-run, OBOC produces one cabaret-style musical revue production a semester, which consists of performances of around 20 songs from different Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals. They perform in Strong Auditorium, accompanied by a pit orchestra.

OBOC is also an open group that welcomes students of different experience levels. Students can decide on how many individual numbers they wish to perform in, or they can act and sing in certain numbers while directing or choreographing other numbers. 

This group also does not recycle songs for at least four years, allowing them to expose the university community to a large array of different musicals. OBOC provides members the opportunity to perform in an array of musical numbers in one single production, rather than producing a single full-length production like ROC Players.

If you are interested in OBOC, follow them on Instagram @ur.oboc, or visit their website and Facebook page.

Xiaoheimao Theater (XHM)

XHM is one of the newester theater organizations on campus and aims to introduce Chinese culture and Chinese theater to more people while also diversifying the campus theater community. Their goal is to get more students involved with theater by encouraging Chinese students to join their organization and then become involved with other theater groups as well. 

Credit: Instagram @xiaoheimao_ur

XHM produces one show per semester put on entirely by students. Students work as directors, actors, stage managers, and designers. XHM also creates a publicity team for each show to make posters and trailers that advertise their show. In addition to a semesterly show, members also take on smaller projects, for example a video project for Valentines’ Day 2020. 

Similarly to TOOP, to join XHM you must audition at the start of the semester to get into the group before participating in a production. Students auditioning to act in the group will be asked to prepare a monologue for an additional audition and may be asked to prepare a scene for a callback. Auditions for non-actors will consist of a brief interview. 

For more information or to see short clips of their past productions, follow XHM on Instagram @xiaoheimao_ur.

Improv Club: In Between The Lines (IBTL) & False Advertising (FA)

The Improv Club holds weekly open workshops throughout the semester to allow members of the university community to practice their improv skills. In addition to these open workshops, the Improv Club has two closed improv troupes: IBTL and FA.

These two closed troupes are performance-orientated and have auditions at the start of each semester to find new members. These troupes then have multiple themed improv shows during the semester, typically performed in Drama House.

IBTL specializes in long-form comedic improv and has partnered with other student groups in the past to create entertaining shows. 

For more information, check out the Improv Club website or In Between The Lines’ Facebook page and Instagram @ibtlrochester.


The arts are a big part of the campus community, and there are numerous organizations that dedicate themselves to theater. If you have any interest in participating in on-campus theater, look for a group that you feel like you would enjoy the most. Most students who enjoy theater are active in multiple theater organizations, and every group has something that makes them unique to our campus community.