In the beginning...


The following is an account told by Joseph Sayegh (C'74), one of Quadramics' earliest members, of the origins of Q. Enjoy.

In the fall of 1973 a kid from New York named Bart Shachnow came to Penn. He was a freshman and lived in the Quad. The idea he had was not only to student direct the shows but also to have his group based in the Quad. That is probably how he sold the idea to the Penn Council at the time.

Life in the Quad was so different from life in the High Rises and Hill that Bart saw it as its own community where a theater group could be developed. At that time Stouffer Hall (now offices) was the cafeteria next to the Quad where all the Quad kids ate on the meal plan. (This further gave the Quad students their own identity--eat together, live together--and really separated them out from the rest of campus.)

After Bart had the idea he met Ron Dagavarian, a sophomore, in line at Stouffer one day. He had seen Ron in a show and told him he'd be great for a part in Don't Drink the Water, which he was planning. Although Quadramics was pitched as a Quad thing, it quickly became apparent there was no place in the Quad to perform. Thus the show was done on the second floor of Houston Hall, where at the time a group called Short Circus performed, as well as the Mask and Wig Fall Show. So right from the start Quadramics was not in the Quad, although I cannot think of a member who did not live there.

The first show was Don't Drink the Water, and the second show [...] was done around Spring Fling in 1974. The show was Peter Schaffer's Black Comedy, which Ron Dagavarian directed. Although I was in Short Circus (a musical comedy revue group that featured Doris Cochran Fikes now of Penn's Admissions Office) I also played the part of Harold in Black Comedy while Bart played the lead. So Black Comedy was the 2nd show Quadramics ever did. In the fall of 1974 the next show was Play It Again Sam (again with the same nucleus), followed by Roar of the Greasepaint. You also have listed Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare, but this version was the musical, and it was performed in the Harold Prince Theater at Annenberg. In the early days this show had a great cast of performers, a great orchestra, and really pulled from a cross section of the school.

I think this was probably the greatest expansion of Quadramics and by then it was clearly a "Quad" thing only in name. Most of us no longer were in the Quad but did stay with the group. Unlike Penn Players, the Glee Club, and the spring Mask and Wig show, this remained student led and it made it one of the most fun groups on campus to be a part of. I think that is why so many kids from the other groups tried out for the Quadramics shows, and why the group lasted.

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