FYPOT and the first-year experience

How First-Years Putting On Theater can help prepare first-years for life at Trinity


Claire Sammons

First Years Putting on Theatre (FYPOT) during rehearsal.

This fall, first-years in First-Years Putting on Theater (FYPOT) are bringing chaos, comedy and fresh perspectives to the theater audience at Trinity. FYPOT showcases Trinity University’s eccentric side with an annual collection of 15-minute performances that are written and directed by upperclassmen and performed by first-years.

Comedy is the common denominator when scripting an FYPOT play. Past performances have included skits such as “Dads at Home Depot,” “What if the Trinity Tower were a Rocket?” and “Lighthearted Jabs at Beloved (Former) President Danny Anderson.” They’re a fun way to incorporate Trinity’s rich history and culture into an experience that promotes collaboration, inclusion and leadership.

The first years in FYPOT this year were provided a chance to be introduced to Trinity’s theater culture in a fun, low-stakes environment. Dylan Hoffman, a first-year student planning to major in marketing, was drawn to the organization because of its relaxed nature.

“I thought it was a good way to first introduce myself to theater in a non-stressful environment,” Hoffman said. “Because it’s just all fun, it’s all students. I don’t think there’s any faculty behind it.”

FYPOT is a fully student-run organization, so the students at FYPOT have full freedom to structure their own rehearsals and performances. Often, actors and directors change the scripts as they go. Unorthodox methods and improvisation are common themes in the preparation process. Abby Jackson, first-year planning to double major in English and film studies, explained the fun of a less structured rehearsal.

“I like when we’re in rehearsal, and because it’s so low-stakes, it’s not a rigid script,” said Jackson. “We’ll be blocking a scene, and then it’s like, ‘oh, how can we do this [in a way] that’s more ridiculous?’ The guy I play is [named] Kyle, so the person I was in the scene with was like, ‘okay, can I just put the Vine here and be like, ‘what the f— is up Kyle?’’ We’re always changing things and it’s fun. Wacky is a great word for it.”

Though rehearsals are quite laid-back, everyone involved tends to dedicate a significant amount of time to it.

“We rehearse every day, except for Friday and weekends, for around one and a half hours. So that’s six or seven hours a week.” Jackson said.

This year there are five FYPOT shows in total, composed of several short skits, each with a cast of three to five first-years. Around 23 first-years are involved overall. Because the casts for each show are so small, the actors play multiple characters across skits. Hoffman told me about a show she’s currently rehearsing for.

“It’s called ‘How I Lost My Virginity,’” Hoffman said with a little laugh. “Really out there in the scenes, and it’s getting me out of my comfort zone. I play like five different characters. A lot of us are triple casting and that’s the fun part of it, because it’s not a really serious play. All these plays are comedic and funny and, like, totally random.”

FYPOT is very casual, so it’s quite easy to make friends and find a social network within the group. Jackson reflects on how the organization has helped her to feel more at home on Trinity’s campus.

“The faces you see directing FYPOT are everywhere. And as a freshman, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, a familiar face!’ It’s cool to see people around campus, and obviously, when you have a cast that you’re working with for six and seven hours a week, it’s a closer thing,” Jackson said.

The first-years involved with FYPOT typically go on to become involved in Trinity’s other theater organization, Trinity University Players (TUPS). From there, the opportunities to act, write and direct grow significantly. Megan McGuire, a senior political science major and president of TUPS, reflects on her FYPOT experience as a first-year, as well as her experience with watching many other first-years learn and grow within the theater community.

“The people that do FYPOT stick around. It’s so incredible to watch them audition for shows and do tech for shows. And now that they’re all sophomores, they’re directing shows, they’re committee leaders, they’re TUPS officers and a lot of them are FYPOT writers and directors themselves,” McGuire said. “It’s great to see people who start with FYPOT go on to make really cool art as they grow and get older.”

Trinity’s FYPOT first-years are incredibly important to TUPS as well as the rest of Trinity University. As FYPOT continues this fall, we look forward to seeing where they go next. FYPOT’s next performances are Sept. 23 and 24 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Stieren theater.