Student Activity Center

Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

In a small town where poor boys can’t talk to rich girls, an unlikely friendship begins between the richest girl in town and one of its poorest boys. This is the premise of “Poor Boys’ Chorus,” a new play set to premiere Friday at the Student Activity Center’s Black Box Theater.

According to Brian Kettler, the play’s writer and a theatre and dance graduate student, what follows is a coming-of-age love story.  

“I was really inspired by what I see as some classic coming-of-age stories — so movies like ‘Stand by Me,’ movies like ‘My Girl,’” Kettler said. “It was really an attempt to tap into the feelings [that are] evoked by those kinds of stories.”

For Natile Novacek, theatre and dance graduate student, being the director of the play was about bringing human feelings and conflicts to the stage.    

“It’s also a story about people choosing to make a connection against all odds, people choosing to embrace the light or the dark in them,” said Novacek. “And people who are forced to make choices very early on about what their life is going to look like.”

“Poor Boys’ Chorus” has been a departure from what Kettler usually writes.

“I tend to write a little more naturalism or realism,” Kettler said. “This play is not that. It’s a lot more poetic. There’s a chorus of three boys that drives the action. I’d never written a chorus before into a play.”

The first time Novacek and Kettler began to work together on “Poor Boys’ Chorus” was in a classroom.

“I was lucky enough to be in a class together with Brian, and we were paired to work on it together,” Novacek said. 

In the same class was Will Douglas, the theatre and dance undergraduate who will play Steeds. For Douglas, the amount of time spent playing the character in class prepared him for his time on stage. 

“When you don’t have a performance that you’re getting ready for, you have a lot of space to play, get things wrong and mess up a lot,” said Douglas. “Already having that playtime with the character definitely has made this a lot easier.”

With “Poor Boys’ Chorus,” Kettler and Novacek hope the audience can find an escape from reality, if only for a short time.

“I’d love for them to have that feeling that they’re lost in this kind of fun, dangerous, theatrical world and have them kind of forget that they’re on the UT campus for a little while,” said Kettler. “So that’s my hope, that when the play’s over it would be like waking up from a dream or something.”

Despite cloudy skies and light rain, 80 students marched from the Student Activity Center to the Capitol’s North Steps to keep UT competitive, safe and affordable. 

Coordinated by the Senate of College Councils, Student Government and the Graduate Assembly, the demonstration was a culminating event for the Invest in Texas campaign, a student-run, nonpartisan organization intended to champion for the student body during the 83rd Legislative Session.

A press conference followed the march in which state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, a member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, and state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the chair of the House Higher Education Committee, praised students for their involvement and stressed the importance of investing in higher education. According to Invest In Texas, for every $1 the state invests in UT, $18 is generated for the Texas economy.

“Funding has to be improved,” Zaffirini said. “The key to lower tuition is higher appropriations. It is wise, just and good to invest in Texas.”

In addition to affordability and improving levels of financial aid funding, speakers at the event discussed UT’s campus gun policy and admissions policy.

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal, who will be inaugurated Tuesday night, gave a short statement prior to entering the Capitol. 

“Because UT is such a large school it’s really important we mobilize students,” Villarreal said. “We’re only one mile from the Capitol and it’s crucial we make our presence.”

After the press conference, students witnessed the official proclamation of Invest in Texas Legislative Day and visited various government officials to lobby for student concerns.

Melissa Dunn, supply chain management senior and curriculum committee member, said the event was a small way to make a difference.

“These are all things I really care about,” Dunn said. “I’m passionate about education policy, and I’m going to be participating in Teach for America. So, Invest in Texas fits right in there.”

Business and history sophomore Miriam Petsch volunteered to help lead students to the Capitol as well as administer information packets.

“Education is my niche of politics that I dabble in,” Petsch said. “With prices soaring all over campus and not enough grants being distributed, the issue needs to be addressed. If we don’t make UT affordable, we threaten its diversity.“

As part of its effort to increase student voter turnout in November, Hook the Vote will deputize volunteers with the ability to register voters for the first time this semester Thursday 6:00 p.m. at the Student Activity Center in room 2.302.

Hook the Vote, which started in 2008, is a bi-partisan Student Government agency that works to inform and register students before elections. This year, Billy Calve, the agency’s director, said Hook the Vote is working to improve its previous efforts.

Along with its event Thursday, Calve said Hook the Vote will have a presence in the West Mall every week leading up to the registration deadline to remind students to register. People at these booths will have voter registration cards, be able to register voters and explain the process of registering to vote.

Calve said the main event is Oct. 9, which is Hook the Vote’s registration rally and concert at Gregory Gym Plaza.

“At the event, we are going to have guest speakers, free food, t-shirts, prizes and it is going to be a really cool party,” Calve said. “The reason it is on Oct. 9 is because that is the deadline. That is the very last day to register to vote, so we will actually be out there registering people to vote till midnight.”

In order to host these events, Calve said Hook the Vote is sponsored by six student organizations and has partnered with 31 other student organizations. Two of those organizations are University Democrats and College Republicans, who will have a debate about the election hosted by Hook the Vote later this semester.

“Part of Hook the Vote’s mission is to educate voters,” Calve said. “We want students to register to vote, but we also want them to know what is being voted on.”

College Republicans spokesperson Danny Zeng said the debate has been a good starting place for students trying to figure out the issues in the election.

“It is a conversation starter. It is important for us to put forth what we believe, and it is important for the Democrats, the Libertarians and for everyone to put forth what they believe,” Zeng said. “Hopefully putting the opinions in front of an audience will stimulate a deeper look into the issues.”

Zeng said an average of 100 students attend the Hook the Vote debate, and a video of the debate is recorded and posted online.

Leslie Tisdale, University Democrats president, said an exact date has not been scheduled yet but will be soon.

Calve said when early voting starts, the FAC will be used for voting on campus. During those times, Calve said Hook the Vote will have a presence across campus encouraging and reminding students to vote.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Hooking UT students on voting