Peasant Theater sets the stage for aspiring theatrical artists

Peasant Theater performs student written and directed play “The Big Dumb Hero of Crozet” (photo by Gopi Raghu).
Peasant Theater performs student written and directed play “The Big Dumb Hero of Crozet” (photo by Gopi Raghu).

Mason junior, Conor Kyle saw a problem growing in the theater community: theater was too expensive and inaccessible for struggling college students.

He wanted to start a theater company that does away with these problems, providing free theater to all presenting the work of any Mason student. He called it "Peasant Theater."

Kyle said, “Peasant Theater is a new student organization created by myself with the idea that we produce student written and directed stage work of any kind and that includes sketches, comedies and full length plays.”

The name “Peasant Theater” was created partly as a joke. “It's sort of a fun, self-denigrating moniker that lends itself well to advertising imagery. The idea behind the name is that I wanted to do shows with practically no budget, and with free admission. Then the people who normally don't go to theater shows - the poor, busy, or ‘peasants’ - would go and have a great time and maybe see that theater doesn't have to be flashy or expensive or out of their ‘league.’” Kyle said in an email.

Peasant Theater works as a way for students to produce their own work. So far, they have done two different kinds of shows. “We have community shows which anybody can do. They’re blocks of one-acts, which can be literally anything, and we have done two house shows, which are longer,” Kyle said.

Kyle wrote and directed the two house shows that have gone up at Mason. The first was an hour long play titled, “Darren Davenport in Legal Limbo,” premiered in the spring 2013 semester.

Last week, Peasant Theater produced its other house show -its first full length play called, “The Big Dumb Hero of Crozet. The play is a dark comedy. Kyle said, “[It is] about a young soldier who goes AWOL, leaving his post in Vietnam, and makes his way back home then has to make up a story that he is a war hero as an excuse for his going home. He attempts to keep the truth a secret even as a few of his high school rivals start poking around and figuring out the truth.”

Conor Kyle was directly involved in the creation and execution of both the house shows. “We haven’t had any full length shows written by someone who is not myself so far, but we are looking forward to it.” All other contributions to Peasant Theater have been only made during the community shows of one-act plays.

Majors do not matter for those interested in joining Peasant Theater. Kyle said, “It doesn’t matter at all, we want everybody. There’s no requirement of any kind. You don’t even have to ask to be a member, just let us know that you have a show and we’ll let you do it.”

Theater is not as inaccessible as students may believe. Kyle wrote in an email, “I think that people need to see that theater doesn't have to be inaccessible. It's people playing make-believe on a stage - there doesn't have to be a mystique around it. It's nothing sacred or impenetrable. I've heard too many people say that they simply ‘don't go to plays’ to believe that this isn't a real factor which limits audiences. And I think it's sad, really. Theater can be really casual and cheap and cool. You could go to a show (or make one!) with your friends and you don't have to go home and contemplate your life afterwards. You can do that, but mostly it should be fun. Just have fun.”

To contact Peasant Theater for more information, email or follow them on Facebook at



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