Off the Lake Productions brings more than a performance to the stage.
The club, founded in 1997, is Ohio State’s only student-run service-based theater organization that donates all of its shows’ proceeds to charity, Noel Wallace, a fourth-year in dietetics and the club’s co-Peer Theatre director, said.
Terry Wheeler, a fourth-year in psychology and sociology and the club’s other co-Peer Theatre director, said this year’s Off the Lake’s charity partner is Transit Arts, an organization working in the greater Columbus, Ohio, area to bring arts workshops to underserved communities.
“They try to provide not only a safe space for them, but a reliable center so that people who may be in unsafe environments can get there, and they also do a lot of outreach to schools,” Wallace said.
The club also has a yearly partnership with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Admission to Off the Lake’s performances are either $1 or a canned good, which is donated to the foodbank, Wheeler said.
Wallace said while the group has two advisers, the shows are completely run by students.
“We have students directing the shows, students choreographing shows,” Wallace said.
He added that the group has more than 100 members, with roughly 40 being active.
Joelle Smith, a third-year in psychology and acting president of Off the Lake, said the club’s active members are required to complete a certain number of community service hours. They are provided with opportunities to do so by their community chairs.
“The main focus is charity. We are student-run, service-based, and that’s what we pride ourselves on,” Smith said.
Wallace said Off the Lake exclusively performed musicals for the organization’s first 19 years, but has expanded in recent years. Now the group performs plays and Peer Theatre events.
Peer Theatre turns difficult topics, such as unhealthy relationships, gender and sexual identity and alcoholism, into small skits to perform in residence halls on campus as a way to facilitate a dialogue with undergraduate students, Wheeler said.
“We pick shows that have a bigger meaning to them that we can have a facilitated dialogue about, simply because that’s just what theater is,” Wheeler said.
While the charity partners change over the years, Wallace said the emphasis on giving back does not.
“In the time that we’ve been here and the time that we’ve known about it, it has been entirely service-based,” Wallace said.
For more information about Off the Lake, its charity work and upcoming shows, visit involvedliving.osu.edu/otl/.