In 1967, the same year that lectures began at the University of Regensburg, the university’s first drama group, the Regensburg University Players, came into being. The Department of English can take pride in the fact that they provided the university’s first cultural attraction and that this tradition has continued over so many years. In celebrating this anniversary, we also celebrate the people who have joined together over the years to make this group so successful and able to stand the test of time.
In Winter Semester 1996/97 Tom H. Fletcher, English lecturer, and Dieter Herms, Konservator, gathered students in lecture halls for the purpose of reading and performing dramatic texts. These meetings gave rise to a drama group eager to perform in public, and resulted in their first tour to Würzburg, Erlangen and Göttingen. Their Anglo-American show was a great success and there was no looking back anymore. From this time on, the RUPs have presented a new production almost every semester and have earned a name for themselves in English theater.
A group such as the RUPs operates on a number of levels, and this has contributed to the success of the group. First, there is "theater for theater’s sake." By this we mean that the people involved in the productions are there because they enjoy being involved in them. It is exciting to prepare a piece for the stage and know that large audiences will be there to see it. Second, there is the language-learning aspect. Those people involved in the play receive intensive instruction that goes beyond what one can gain from a two-hour course that meets once a week. Comprehension, pronunciation, and intonation are stressed, and participants tend to obtain a higher level of fluency after spending a semester involved in the group. Third, not only do the cast and crew benefit from the experience, but the university’s students as well as the community and schools are able to spend an evening immersed in the English language while being entertained. Thus, the benefit the RUPs provide is three-fold.
A few changes have come about since 1967, with one of the biggest involving the affiliation and the name of the group. From 1993-95 no productions were staged, due to internal organizational conflicts and the fact that the last director, Laura Martin, left to take a position in Scotland. Moreover, due to university budget cuts, the reduction in teaching hours for the Lector directing the group was cancelled. The official support of the Department of English was withdrawn, although the group is still fortunate enough to enjoy the Department’s unofficial support and encouragement. When the group reformed in 1996, they felt that it would be appropriate to choose a name reflecting past tradition as well as one signaling that changes in the ranks had been made. The group opted for "RUPs, too," meaning that we are also the RUPs, but a new generation. The group is proud of its heritage but also of the fact that a new generation of people were able to come along and rescue it from being reduced to several albums of memorabilia and from becoming nothing but a lovely memory.
In addition to a slight change in name, the group has also spawned two other groups with completely different names but with the same goals. In SS 1999 TREAT was formed by several RUPs, too members because they wished to bring a special project to the stage. Steel Magnolias was performed in this semester and was a tremendous success. The group appeared again in SS 2001 with an original stage adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, again a sell-out success, followed in April 2006 by Enchanted April, again an original stage adaptation. A second new group to evolve from the RUPs, too was TRASH. TRASH formed in WS 2001/02 and brought the delightful The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abr.) to the stage.
In terms of venue the RUPs have long since been associated with the Theater an der Uni at The University of Regensburg, but in the early days before this theater opened its doors, the group had to be more creative. Whenever possible they performed in the theater at The Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut, but even youth centers, schools, courtyards and streets were venues for them. Since the completion of the Theater an der Uni, aside from occasional tours, this has been the players’ home. Within the context of our celebration, we also wish to celebrate the fact that we have such a wonderful place as our theater. Kiel is the only other German university that has anything to compare to this. We are extremely grateful for such a well-equipped theater and we wish to thank Studentenwerk Niederbayern/Oberpfalz for maintaining it and allowing student groups to make use of it.
While directors, cast and crew have come and gone over the years, one thing has remained the same; the group is committed to performing plays in the English language and to doing it as professionally as possible. Countless hours are spent rehearsing and setting up the theater, but there is ample reward for all this work. When we look out and see a full house and the expectant faces, then hear the applause, we know why we invest so much time in this endeavor.
As it would be impossible to thank everyone personally for their help and support over the years, we’d like to say a huge THANK YOU here. This goes out to every person who has ever directly participated in a production, as well as to those who supported the group by attending performances, lending a helping hand and encouraging us to continue. We are extremely grateful for this and will show our gratitude for many years to come by treading the boards for you.