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Keenan Revue loses venue

Katie Peralta | Thursday, February 18, 2010

The annual and controversial crowd favorite, the Keenan Revue, originally presented in Washington Hall and most recently in Saint Mary’s O’Laughlin Auditorium, will once again have to find a new venue.

Saint Mary’s administrators have announced the content of the variety show is not congruent with the College’s mission statement and therefore their annual contract will not be renewed.

“To host it is counterproductive [for the College],” senior Tim Treat, director of this year’s Revue said. “They stressed that the decision was made before this year’s Revue and it’s a decision the cabinet talks about every year.”

Treat said in a meeting with Keenan representatives and hall rector Fr. Dan Nolan, College officials said the general content of the Revue from year to year shaped their decision to discontinue the contract.

“They stressed that it was not a particular year, skit or joke that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Treat said. “They mentioned the disparaging remarks about women and sexuality in the show.”

In a recently released statement, Shari Rodriguez, vice president of College relations, articulated the deviation from the College mission.

“The Cabinet finds the sexual nature of the skits as well as the inappropriate references to women to be incongruent with Saint Mary’s College mission and values,” she said. “Saint Mary’s College strives to treat all individuals with dignity and respect.”

Treat said, however, that Revue organizers were left in the dark as to why this change is occurring after so many years of similar content themes.

“‘Why now?’ we were asking,” Treat said. “Why now after 34 years?”

The Keenan Revue started out in the late 1970s in Washington Hall but after two years moved to O’Laughlin Auditorium, which, with a seating capacity of 1,300, could accommodate a larger audience.

The larger seating capacity was not the only benefit of O’Laughlin, Treat said. The new venue allowed for the incorporation of audiences besides just Notre Dame students.
“The Keenan Revue was one dorm event that tied three campuses  together,” Treat said. “It’s a shame we won’t be able to do that as easily anymore.”

Treat said he estimated around 1,000 Saint Mary’s students attended this year’s show, while around 50 Holy Cross students were in attendance.

Revue organizers are currently searching for other nearby venues at which to hold the 2011 Keenan Revue, including some on campus.

“We have the full support of Student Affairs,” Treat said.

One option is Washington Hall but its smaller size again would be a limiting factor. Also, he said, Washington Hall’s Main Stage is booked through the entire year and gives preference to groups who have already performed there.

Another on-campus venue, Treat said, is the Joyce Center, but it also comes with drawbacks.

“The down side is that it’s not traditional theater setting; there’s no curtain,” Treat said. “But we would work with what we’ve got.”

Another option would be the Morris Performing Arts Center, a large theater off campus, but the problem with that would be transportation.

“But if people want to go they will get there,” Treat said.

Reception of news of the move has generally not been positive among students.
“I have not spoken to anyone who is not a little upset about it,” he said.

Nolan was also not pleased with the decision.  

“I was very disappointed that they were not going to renew [the contract],” he said. “Saint Mary’s has a very wonderful facility. It’s going to be hard to find another place that accommodates us so well.”

Treat did say, however, that there is mutual understanding between Saint Mary’s and Keenan Revue organizers.

“We all understand that it is completely within the right of the administration to not renew the contract,” he said. “We are going to make the most of the transition and look at this purely as a change of venue.”