Northrup Auditorium, U of MN
    Northrup Auditorium is a great Action Squad building.  We’ve used it in a couple different ways in steam tunnel trips, I used to crawl around beneath it between classes now and then, and we’ve climbed it for fun.  There are many missions that could be told about, but this particular story is about a solo mission taken by Max Action in the early part of 1999.

     I was on campus by myself doing some buildering (climbing buildings without ropes and such) training; I’d recently read a book that discussed it, and I knew how valuable it could be to Action Squad.  So I went to the U in the middle of the night and spent a couple of hours practicing chimneying and other techniques on the diverse architecture of the campus.  I was scaling Northrup Auditorium when I realized two things.  First, I was getting sick of climbing up and down buildings, and second, it would be great to get into Northrup at night.  I found a window unlocked on the third floor and let myself in.

     There were lights on in the main areas, which was good and bad.  It was good because I had not brought a light since I had only planned on climbing, and bad because it made it very hard to move around, since it was so easy to see in the windows from outside.  I knew right away that I wanted to get into the actual auditorium and stage area.  However, every door on every floor was locked.  It was ridiculous.  Finally, the literally last door I tested turned out to have a loose and defective lock that did not secure the door at all.

     All of the auditorium lights were turned off, and the immense space was pitch black, except for the “exit” signs that glowed like wild animal eyes all around the seating area and up on the balconies.  The slightest sounds would echo eerily, and I very quickly found myself wishing I had a flashlight.  And a weapon.  It was really creepy, somehow even more so than any abandoned tunnel has ever been.  It was no doubt due to being totally alone, rather than with some friends.  I got to the front and climbed on stage, and began poking around the backstage areas, some of which were lit faintly.  Stage right, I found the winding spiral staircase that led up to the director’s room and to the first level of catwalks.  This in turn led me up into the catwalks high up above the stage, with the lights and pulleys.

     After awhile, I came down and explored some more on the ground level. I discovered the room that performers get ready in, with the stereotypical giant mirror with lights all around it.  I poked around in the sofa cushions but did not even find any change, let alone anything really cool.  There was also a private bathroom with a shower.

     By now I was feeling much more confident, and decided it would be great to get totally naked and run around on stage.  So I did.  Cartwheeling nude from one end of the stage to the other, aside from making me very dizzy, was also a liberating experience.  I sang the cavernous space a song or two, did some nude dancing, and realized I was filthy from the long night of climbing plus rolling around the stage.  So I gathered up my clothing, bowed to my imaginary audience, and headed to the shower, where I relaxed under the hot spray for awhile, before drying off with wads of paper towels and getting dressed for the trip home.