When Tony Meneses came to UT, he had no idea that the theaters group he formed would leave a lasting legacy for students 14 years later.
In 2005, Meneses founded Foot in the Door Theatre, an entirely student-run drama organization on campus. The group puts on at least one show per semester, with all elements staged and executed by members. Meneses, who attended Julliard after graduating from UT, said the group primarily attracts students who did theater in high school and loved it as a creative outlet but may not want to pursue it as a major.
“It was great community building at such a big institution like UT,” Meneses said. “It’s a very good practical education on what it actually takes to mount a show. You have to deal with the nitty-gritty stuff like budgets and space rental. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work.”
Meneses said he was known in the Liberal Arts Honors Program as the “theater guy” and was approached by college faculty to start the group. In the spring of 2005, Foot in the Door staged their first production, and they’ve been active at UT ever since.
Now, the group has their sights set on an upcoming production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Rohan Teredesai, radio-television-film junior and Foot in the Door’s interim executive producer, said the group still aims to create “stress-free theater for the enthusiastic nonthespian.”
That is to say, students participating don’t need to have extensive knowledge of acting prior to joining.
“We’re providing a space for students to do theater without having to compete with people who are trying to do it professionally,” Teredesai said. “In that same vein, we’ve had students who start off in Foot in the Door and then make the jump to adding a theater major.”
Allison Hardin, an environmental science sophomore, is the director for the upcoming Shakespeare production. She said the group is open to receiving new members of all skill levels.
“In high school theater, it was kind of similar (to Foot in the Door) because it was just the same class every four years, so we become this tight-knit group,” Hardin said. “But we’re always looking for new members.”
One new member this year is English freshman Daniel Aaron Bryant, who started performing theater in eighth grade and is cast as the upcoming male lead.
“I was nervous because I was going to be an English major when I went to college, and I was thinking, ‘How am I going to be a part of drama?’” Bryant said. “I decided to audition for Foot in the Door — and I’m glad I did.”
Now many years removed from his time as an undergraduate Longhorn, Meneses’ legacy lives on. He said he can trace his continued affinity for theater-making to his time with Foot in the Door.
“The community spirit of what I do is probably the most rewarding part,” Meneses said. “It’s a real joy to work on a play and be in rehearsals. You make it together, which is for me very satisfying, very fulfilling.”