The Origins of the Junior Arden Club

During the first few years of the Arden club, the enrollment of the college rose by a lot, but the Arden Club had not kept pace with this growth because the number of people in the club stayed the same. This was mainly because of the tryouts necessary to become a part of the Arden Club. Miss McCord, President Sam Hilburn, and people in the club realized this and proposed that there not be tryouts. 

In the first minutes I documented, the club had proposed a revision of the Arden Club constitution which created a subsidiary group, the Junior Club. This made it possible for more people to join the club without having tryouts. The Junior Club was organized similar to how the Arden Club was, electing its own people and was mainly an independent body. This change was a good way of addressing the problem of the amount of people in the club not changing.

A different issue the Arden club had was performance space. The place of production at Arden Hall would not accommodate at one time all who wanted to attend Arden Club plays. As a result, the last production of the previous season was shifted to the main place of production, where the production facilities were not as good as those in Arden Hall. The Arden Club therefore decided at this meeting that the performances would be given only in Arden Hall and would run for two consecutive nights to accommodate all who desired to see the production. Tickets were to be sold for all performances (History of the Club).

In the second minutes notes I documented, the club revised the constitution and made it so that admission to the Senior Club depended upon performances in a Junior Club production and unanimous recommendation of a committee composed of the director of the club, Miss McCord, a representative elected from the Arden Club, and a representative from the faculty to be selected by the director and the club’s representative. This was a distinctive change from the old constitution which said that all people in the group vote on the applicants which were approved by Miss McCord.

With both the Junior and Senior Arden Clubs producing plays, the season was one of the most successful and definitely the largest as to the amount of plays produced, that the school had seen. The Senior Group produced the commencement play, The Merchant of Venice. 

Most of the money given was spent to the Arden Club to create the production of the commencement play, The Merchant of Venice. The regular plays during the year were done primarily on the funds from ticket sales. The play itself was above the high standard set by the previous plays given by the club. Special lights were arranged to provide effective lighting for what was called a “a brilliant display of histrionic ability” (History of the Club). Sam Hilburn’s splendid interpretation of Shylock won his wide acclaim and choice as the title role in Hamlet when that play was selected as the next season’s commencement play.

The dramatic activities of the club came about because of the interest in creating a commencement drama play. The growth of the club was at times limited by poor physical facilities and a limited budget. The auditorium the plays were produced in did not have enough room. The first place of production did not have sufficient lighting and scenic equipment, dressing rooms, or stage space. The interest and ingenuity of the club and the top people in the group helped the club. The basic policies of the club did not change much. They were considered extracurricular activities because the faculty did not receive any money. 

During the first few years of the club until the season I am documenting here, individuals tryouts were held to select new people. During the next years, the performances in the Junior Club was the basis of selection and during the last few years before the War, performances in regular Arden Club plays was the basis of election. 

In reviewing the documents I chose, I found much more information related to the plays themselves. Also I was able to see how the club actually made the play possible and what went into designing it. Some of the facilities they used were not very high quality but they were still able to use them. In the minutes documents, they described some changes to the constitution which related to how the club would work. They were helpful in describing the management of the club. I also found a lot of information about the plays and how they were produced.

Jack Cornish

Works Cited 

Abbott, Billy Mack. “A History of the Arden Club of Southern Methodist University” Thesis—S.M.U. Print.