The University of Northern Colorado has 171 groups registered with the Office of Student Organizations. These clubs range from fraternities to cultural organizations and religious groups. On August 25, the school officially welcomed its newest student-run theater organization: Fruit Salad.
Fruit Salad is a theatrical production group that focuses on producing shows that tell stories about those with minority gender and sexual identities.
The group is part of the School of Theatre Arts and Dance Collective, which meets to discuss how to best serve UNC and the STAD community. The collective consists of 12 groups.
Many of the groups in the collective act as theatrical producers by helping student directors acquire funding and promotion for their shows. Some organizations, like Directors Inspiring Riveting Theatre, do not have a primary niche when it comes to choosing shows they want to produce. Other groups are more specific about the shows they pick up such as SOAPbox productions, which only produces movement-based theater pieces.
Although six of the clubs in the collective pick up shows to produce them, President and Founder of Fruit Salad, Zoë Chavez, felt that LGBTQ+ art was being consistently underproduced. To help solve that problem, Chavez created Fruit Salad.
“I just kind of noticed that there wasn’t really a space on campus that was dedicated to queer theater, and I think that’s something that’s really important, especially on UNC’s campus,” Chavez said. “There’s a really large part of the STAD community that is part of the LGBTQ+ community, so I thought it was really important that we would have a safe space that makes us feel good in ourselves.”
Secretary Eli Sudmeier also noticed a lack of queer shows being produced by the collective.
“There are a lot of queer voices and queer performers, and there are just not that many people who put on queer shows,” Sudmeier said. “Or at least there aren’t any queer shows that get picked up by other student production groups. So, it was very clear that for these plays to get picked up that are speaking to or about queer people, that there needed to be a group for queer voices.”
In its first year as a club, the members of Fruit Salad plan to stage shows focused on and featuring those who are apart of marginalized genders or sexual orientations. The group also has plans to host workshops and educational events to benefit the UNC community. According to Chavez, these events are not limited to those in the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone is welcome.
Sudmeier, who uses they/she pronouns, urges all UNC students to support Fruit Salad and queer art, even if they are not normally theatergoers.
“People go to see movies all the time,” they said. “You should go and see plays because there’s so much passion put into those. Especially with some of the shows that Fruit Salad will soon be putting on, it opens up the opportunity to view more pieces of art and to understand more people’s experiences.”
Fruit Salad’s first show, “how to clean your room (and remember all your trauma)” by J. Chavez, will perform in January 2024.
For more information on Fruit Salad and to keep up with events, visit their Instagram @FruitSalad_UNCO.