Skull & Dagger Dramatic Society Celebrates 100 Years

The student theatre organization is SDSU’s longest-active club

October 30, 2023

Little Women cast photo, courtesy of SDDS.
Little Women cast photo, courtesy of SDDS.

Skull & Dagger Dramatic Society (SDDS), San Diego State University’s longest active club, is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in November, 2023.

The theatre-focused club was organized during the 1923-24 school year. That year’s yearbook referred to the club as “an honorary dramatic fraternity, which also occasionally produces plays.”

Since then, the club has developed into a diverse and talented group that hosts bi-weekly meetings, multiple mainstage shows, and two “Uncaged” festivals featuring numerous acts each year.

“They are truly part of the fabric of our school,” faculty adviser and theatre professor Dr. Katie Turner said. “A laboratory space for students to try things out. Sometimes things fail, as any experiment can, but mostly they create miraculous results through their vision, passion, and teamwork.”

Lindsay Brashier, an alumna of the SDSU theatre program, is now a freelance production manager and the current technical site manager for Enchant Christmas in Las Vegas. During her college years, she spent two years as production manager for Skull & Dagger.

“The root of Skull & Dagger's success is the people that continue its legacy,” she said. “The community you build when creating theatre and art with your peers is such a special experience that very few organizations on campus get to see first-hand.

“The camaraderie and teamwork I have witnessed over my years working with the club is essential to their enduring success,” Turner said. “The board and other members always pull together to create spectacular shows. I have seen them meet and overcome exceptional challenges to bring amazing work to their audiences and provide their fellow students with opportunities to practice their craft.”

Among the board members is current co-technical director Danny Holmes.

“I have grown so much because of my experiences with the club,” he said. “It has tested my abilities as a leader, an artist, a designer, and as a worker. I have learned many hard lessons about delegation, discipline, self-care, and collaboration with others.”

“It takes a f—ing village to create something incredible,” he said bluntly.

Brashier reminisced, “I got to fail a lot with this club, and I got to learn from my mistakes in a safe and caring environment.

“I'll never forget the first show of theirs I ever saw, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a comedy by Steve Martin,” Turner recalled. “The show absolutely blew me away: the comic timing of the actors, their incredible chemistry and energy together, the beautifully executed design elements. All of it combined was a magic night of theatre. It reminded me so much of the work I did when I was a student with my own student theatre group. It was clear they were doing something they were passionate about, not just something assigned to them.”

The most recent mainstage production from SDDS was last season’s Little Women, which featured two casts and large set pieces. According to Holmes, it was the “behemoth” of his career as he worked as technical director and co-scenic designer. 

“All these together, plus the demanding needs of the vision for the piece set in an educational setting on a limited budget, it was madness,” he said. “ But we had the greatest team of designers and production crew to get us through it.”

According to Turner, these challenges are perfect for developing the next generation of artists.

“Theatre is a practical art,” she said. “The more you do it, the more you learn. Theatre clubs allow students to prioritize the works that they think are important, while also testing their skills to see what they have mastered and where they can still improve.”

Brashier reflected that this creative spirit, repetition, and hard-working community have shaped the evolution of the club.

“I've seen Skull & Dagger evolve into several different versions over the past five years, and each year they're able to cater that season to meet the needs of our SDSU community at the time. Skull & Dagger is far from being over, and this 100-year anniversary is a true testament to that.”

SDDS’s next production puts a contemporary spin on the Greek play Medea. For more information on tickets, or to join the club, visit the club on Instagram.

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