Masturbation Theatre

Anne Aaker

The Artistic Masturbation Theatre Company may sound like the kind of group you’d find on scrambled cable channels, but the name actually came about rather innocently. A friend of the founders of the group came up with this phrase, which reflects the very nature of indulgence and enjoyment.
The AMTC was thus named in the spirit of fun because it is a group that maintains a laid-back atmosphere in which to perform and create art.
The Artistic Masturbation Theatre Company is an independent, student-run theater group started by then-freshmen Sarah Hesch and Amy Thorstenson in spring 2004.
The girls had noticed that there were no playwriting or directing classes. Being playwrights and aspiring directors themselves, they wanted an outlet that would satisfy these artistic needs. The AMTC was the outlet that they created.
Hesch and Thorstenson wrote the first two plays the company performed. Upon running auditions for the plays, interest in the group rose – soon there were several members. However, the group began to really grow because of a bit of publicity that occurred “by accident.”
The AMTC’s founders were questioning whether or not to stage another production. They eventually decided to do a series of smaller shows. Again, auditions brought more interested students to the group.
But when the performance date was only two days away, the group name came under fire, partly because the group itself was not recognized by LUCC. When the company became an official organization, it gave them access to university resources and attracted student attention.
“It was either pay $50 to perform or become a recognized group,” Hesch said, “and we were approved to be the latter. That is how we have managed to get more student involvement, which is great.”
Hesch also mentioned that the group was able to be a part of the new student activity fair at the beginning of the school year, which has also helped to boost their numbers. Now, the group consists not only of several actors, actresses, playwrights, and directors, but also five board members: Hesch and Thorstenson, along with Maureen Schneck, Marcin Tasz and Chris Snapp.
This year’s project is slightly bigger than in years past. Three scripts, written individually by Thorstenson, Snapp, and Susan Galasso will be performed, as well as a handful of smaller dramatic works written by other students.
A week or so before the performance, there will be a series of spontaneous shows performed in random places around campus. For example, you may see an actor in a tree on Main Hall Green, or hear a monologue as you stroll through the Science Hall Atrium.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that we are doing our own independent work, and we want people to enjoy being a part of it,” Hesch explained. “There are people in the group who are theater majors and those who aren’t, but every person should be able to enjoy art – and that’s what we’re about. That’s the most important thing.”
If you’re interested in seeing what the Artistic Masturbation Theatre Company has to offer in the way of dramatic arts, check out their performance in the Underground Coffeehouse on Friday, May 19.