The 1930s & 40s
Through the thirties, the Roister Doisters’ popularity continued to grow. Facing both the aftermath of the Great Depression as well as a institutional name-change (“Mass Aggie” to “Massachusetts State College”), the RDs pushed forward.
Under the direction of advisor Frank Prentice Rand, the organization continued to present 2+ productions every year. Rand brought unique and fresh ideas to the presenting of these plays, staging them both in Bowker Auditorium (est. 1916) as well as various other locations across campus. For instance, the 1933 production of Shakepeare's “As You Like It” was presented outdoors, in an outdoor setting called the Ravine.
With the introduction of Music & Fine Arts programs at Mass State in 1938, came even more theatrical opportunities. The faculty head of these programs, Doric Alviani, became the founder of the new "Operetta Guild" on campus that year. This new organization consistently presented Gilbert & Sullivan Operettas for the next decade (until later expanding their repertory into more mainstream musicals).
After the events at Pearl Harbor (1941) and the subsequent American entry into World War II, participation in the RDs significantly slowed down. By 1944, the student population at Mass State had been cut roughly in half as many students enlisted in military service. In fact, the campus was used for military training throughout the decade.
But the absence of men on campus did not slow the RDs down. In fact, they performed an all-female production of “Love’s Labors Lost” in 1944, except for the role of the clown (who was played by a male actor, too young to be drafted).
Post-war, the campus went through some major changes. In 1947, Mass State was officially renamed "the University of Massachusetts". That was also the year that the RDs changed hands, from beloved advisor Frank Rand to Arthur Niedeck (of the Speech Dept). Prof. Niedeck reorganized the club in order to give students a more active role in the various stages of production (ie. student directors, various committees). The shows they selected were also beginning to shift towards more contemporary broadway hits by the end of this decade.