Sophomore launches website for performance orgs

by Annie Huang / Beacon Staff • January 20, 2016

“Did you know about the audition this weekend?”

It’s a common question heard on campus, but Zach Holden thinks only a handful of students can respond with a “yes.” To spread awareness about on-campus theater, a cappella, dance, and comedy organizations, the sophomore performing arts major founded the Student Performance Network, or SPN. 

The new website is dedicated to informing students about events, auditions, and everything else related to the stage at Emerson. So far, the Musical Theatre Society, the Student Theatre Alliance, and various comedy troupes have contributed to the site, which launched on New Year’s Day.

Emily Elmore, a junior performing arts major and the artistic director of drama troupe Mercutio, is one of the many contributors to Holden’s site. She said she first learned about it when Holden presented the idea at one of the Student Theatre Alliance’s meetings last year, according to Elmore. She said the site makes it easier for students, especially those who are new, to see what opportunities are out there.

“I remember being a freshman and thinking, ‘How am I going to handle everything?’” Elmore said. “I found myself making a calendar, which is what [Holden] eventually did.”

Holden said the idea came to him during his freshman year, when a few seniors dropped by one of his classes to offer some advice to the new students. A fellow freshman asked if there was a place to get information on all the performing organizations on campus. The seniors explained there wasn’t.

“That’s what inspired me to create this website,” Holden said. “I started thinking about it over the year, and eventually, I had some free time to buy a domain and work on Wix, [a free website builder].”

Holden said he was also inspired by the Emerson Open Calls website, which focuses on film projects rather than staged performances. The site lets students upload their resume, which Holden plans on adding to SPN. Holden also said he wants to add the “Library,” which will allow students to view playbills from all the student productions on campus.

The site currently includes a show calendar, cast and crew calls, and information on nearly 25 organizations.

“I think what [Holden] is doing is essential to students,” Elmore said. “What’s especially great about it is that it doesn’t just include theater but dance and a cappella as well.” 

Aside from the general information presented on the site, he added his own voice to its blog, “Helpful Hints,” bestowing tips and advice on reserving spaces and attending auditions. 

Holden said since he is taking a break from productions, he’s had free time to develop the site. He hopes to gather a team of helpers, especially students who can design and code, to help him gather information. Although he has yet to go to an audition or tryout from the site, he said he’s benefited immensely from it.

“I’m already learning so much more than I thought existed,” Holden said. “I’ve definitely gained a new awareness of what’s going on [at Emerson].”

Despite its recent release, the site already garnered over 600 visits online, as shown on its tracker. Elmore said that she thinks the SPN will change the Emerson performance community for the better. 

“It will remind us that we’re not in competition against one another, and that we can create and perform together,” Elmore said.