Nomadic Theatre is a co-curricular, student-led theatre group at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in the United States. Focused on being “technically ambitious and socially engaged,” it is dedicated to producing new works that have an aspect of social awareness and using the theatre process to allow students to learn about theatre. The group takes its name from its history of having no permanent theatre to work in.
The group produces three main stage shows a year, usually performed in the Walsh Black Box (no longer in use), the Village C Theatre, or the Devine Theatre in the Davis Performing Arts Center in the center of Georgetown’s campus. Main stage shows are directed, produced, acted, designed largely by students. Often students in large roles such as director, producer, or designer, will have an assistant who they train to be able to perform that role on a future show.
The group also produces “Square Pegs”, opportunities for students to get involved in theatre without a large time commitment. These have a much shorter rehearsal process and have minimal technical elements and are often performed in the open air amphitheatre in Red Square or in Bulldog Alley in the Leavey Center.
Nomadic was created in 1982 under the name “D&B Productions” by a group of members from the Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society (M&B) who were tired of the Shakespeare and traditional theatre that M&B was known for. Their first show was Harvey, about a man who befriends an imaginary giant rabbit. The group’s second production, “The Fantasticks”, shifted its early focus to musical theater. The name “Nomadic Theatre” was not used by the group until the spring, 1984 show, “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”, and was adopted because of the administration’s unwillingness to allow the group to reserve facilities for fixed rehearsal locations, thus necessitating cast members for any given show to memorize the “standard progression” of locations where rehearsal space would be sought, and walk from one to the next until the evening’s location was found. All of the group’s belongings, consisting mostly of costume pieces, a few props, and a complete tool set purchased through the Roy Rogers restaurant points collection game, were kept in a closet illegally occupied by it in the basement of Xavier Hall. During the early years of the group, it produced a series of musical productions (Jacques Brel…, the Jones and Schmidt musical Philemon, A Night in the Ukraine, Sweeney Todd, What’s a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This? and Evita) before changing to a non-musical focus.
In 2005 a new building, the Davis Performing Arts Center (DPAC), was constructed. Nomadic and other theatre groups on campus were able to use the advanced scene shop and costume shop for working on their shows, but the building’s theatre spaces were to be reserved mainly for faculty directed shows. However, in March 2006, Nomadic Theatre were able to teamed up with the Department of Performing Arts at Georgetown for the first student production ever staged in the Devine Theatre of the building. In 2007, Nomadic became the first group to have a full-scale, student-run show in the Devine, with Translations. Since then Nomadic has regularly performed in the building.
In the Spring of 2010 members of Nomadic Theatre were instrumental in the organization of Hate-Free Georgetown, a week-long celebration to “promote unity and respect on campus”.
Bradley Cooper participated in Nomadic Theatre during his time at Georgetown, notably playing Cassanova in Nomadic’s 1995 production of Tennessee Williams’ play “Camino Real.”