GUTS nearly doubles membership

This year, the Groningen University Theater Society, better known as GUTS, nearly doubled its membership. In 2015, 45 members were a part of the English department’s acting troupe, compared to around 25 cast and crewmembers in 2014.

While the only English-language theatre group affiliated with the RUG has become more popular, the numbers are also a reflection of an improved registration system, according to Chanani Campbell, secretary for the GUTS board.

In years past, membership numbers fluctuated as participants came and went without notifying the board. The introduction of paid-only membership and an online membership form for the 2015/2016 season make keeping, archiving, and tracking the numbers easier. GUTS has had membership fees in previous years, and each new board decides whether to collect membership fees or not, Chanani adds.


In addition to these measures, what has made GUTS so popular lately? ‘A big part of GUTS’ growth is because of better promotion and the quality of the plays’, Chanani says. Last season, GUTS performed 3 plays: Closer, The Breakfast Club and Clammed Up. By contrast, the group has traditionally done two productions per year on average since the ‘90s.

A promotional video by GUTS member James Lyon also spread the word about the group. Chanani sees GUTS’ success at the 6th annual Cardozo awards as another explanation for the increased membership: this year, GUTS took home three awards, including Best Play for Clammed Up.


Workshops and side projects may have also contributed to the group’s notoriety, such as Late Night with GUTS, Hanze House, Cultuur Nacht and a New Year’s Eve project in collaboration with ESN. The group hopes that all of these aspects combined can help the society to get sponsorship from the University of Groningen: even though GUTS has the university’s name in its title, the theatre troupe does not receive any funding from RUG. GUTS is partially financed by Usva and also receives sponsorship from companies and pubs such as New Orleans Jazz Cafe where they host pub quizzes. In addition, there is a small ‘production fee’ for each cast and crewmember.

GUTS has existed in some form since 1968, according to GUTS member Dorian Smilda who authored a chapter about the history of the theatre society for the to-be-published book, Studying in Groningen Through the Ages. In 1967, Shakespearean and classical theater were a part of the English department, but Rudy Bremer, a lecturer at the RUG at the time, decided to involve more contemporary plays and playwrights. Bremer began a drama society named DramSoc which brought students and instructors together, and in 1984, the group came to be known as GUTS.