Uncover new interests or continue your passions by participating in a wide variety of performing opportunities.
Nearly two-thirds of WashU students join a community fostering performing arts and music.
Performing Arts Department
The Performing Arts Department (PAD) is dedicated to teaching theater and dance as a fundamental part of a liberal arts education based in a research university. Throughout the academic year, PAD hosts a myriad of performances open to the campus and surrounding communities.
Edison Theatre is a fully technically equipped, proscenium thrust theater on the Danforth Campus.
Edison serves as a teaching facility for the Performing Arts Department, which produces three mainstage Edison shows each year. It also serves as a performance venue for WashU student organizations, such as the Lunar New Year Festival performance and Carnaval.
Edison is one of the few theaters in the St. Louis area to serve as a rental house for locally based presenting arts organizations.
Department of Music
The Department of Music advocates a lively and exciting musical environment on campus. The department provides opportunities for WashU students to enrich their education through studying music. Each semester, the department offers an extensive season of performances by WashU’s own soloists, ensembles, and symphony, as well as nationally and internationally known musicians. The department also partners with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for feature performances throughout the year.
WashU offers over 13 a cappella groups on campus with each holding a distinct theme and flare.
To name a few, WashU is home to the Aristocrats, The Ghost Lights, and More Fools Than Wise. These groups sing your favorite disney tunes, broadway songs, and jazz pieces, respectively. Some groups have even received national recognition such as The Amateurs, who have performed on America’s Got Talent, and The Mosaic Whispers, who have recorded with musician Ben Folds.
A capella groups sing at campus events, travel the country to perform, and put on shows throughout the year.
WashU is home to several improv groups, giving students a chance to think — and be funny — on their feet. Students can watch or audition for Mama’s Pot Roast, KARL, and Suspicious of Whistlers, comedy troupes bringing laughter and joy to the entire campus.
Both Mama’s Pot Roast and KARL specialize in short-form improvisational skits, performing in a style similar to what’s seen on the television show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Suspicious of Whistlers is a long-form improv troupe, performing in a more scene-motivated manner.
It has been said that “All the world’s a stage,” and the Washington University Quadrangle is no exception. Each April, members of All Student Theatre turn the Quad into an outdoor student-run theater. Every aspect of the show — producing, designing, and performing — is done by students.
Another fully student-run performing group is Thyrsus, the oldest student group on campus. Thyrsus puts on an annual day-of-shame performance for which they write, direct, and perform a series of short plays within a 24-hour time span.
The third student theater group on campus is Cast n’ Crew, focusing on black box style and often cult-classic theater productions. They produce one show in the fall and spring. WashU also puts on a set of plays and musicals through the Performing Arts Department.
WashU has various dance groups to meet students’ interest. Some dance groups include WUSauce, PL4Y, and WUHUU, specializing in salsa, Kpop dance covers, and hip-hop, respectively. Whether you have danced before or you are interested in learning, these groups offer free lessons and workshop to hone your dance skills!
WU-Slam is the premier spoken word group at WashU. The core of WU-Slam is the Performance Crew, which consists of the executive board and a traveling performance group. However, WU-Slam also hosts a weekly poetry workshop, Inklings, that is open to all students, as well as monthly poetry slams, or spoken word competitions. The Grand Slam, held every fall, draws huge crowds to the Danforth University Center to watch students compete for spots on WashU’s National Slam Team.