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B.4.b. Mainstage Productions

The productions we call Mainstage we assemble and perform in the E. E. Bach Theatre.  Great effort is expended to closely control the experience for our audience, making our presentations there quite formal in intent, and for these productions we make full use of the facilities offered by the design and equipment of that theatre.

Because we want to use these mainstage productions to provide experience in relatively elaborate mountings, we usually end up with a sizable budget at risk.  This, of course, de­mands a certain degree of popular appeal for the presentations we schedule there, since our University Theatre program is primarily box-office driven.  Also, therefore, the number of seats we need to fill becomes important as do the number of performances.  The productions normally are scheduled for two-weekend runs; weekend performances are far easier to sell than mid-week performances.  We usually schedule a minimum of six or seven performances, with some audience-successful productions receiving as many as ten.  An invited-audience preview serves as a final dress rehearsal.

Scheduling a number of performances for our productions is of value to cast and running crew as well as box-office income, since it allows for the development of a settled perfor­mance pattern over several presentations.  It also allows for the comparison of several dif­ferent audience responses to essentially the same material—amazing creature, the audi­ence, a real shape-shifter from night to night.

These Mainstage productions are often tied to other institutional interests such as Homecoming, Fellows events, University Core classes, high school groups, and such like.  This circumstance gives them a somewhat greater visibility and more notoriety, but it also in­creases the pressure for artistic and popular success.  The needs for alumni approbation, or major donor appeasement, or intellectual discussion for course content always lurk behind our Mainstage work.  But these are constituencies of the institution we are committed to serve while carrying on an internship program for your interests, and so the tensions must be embraced.

The visual aspects, (scenery and costume), of the Mainstage productions is usually created by the theatre faculty scenographer. The lighting and sound designs are created by invited professional designers who produce work at major professional theatres in the Seattle area. This is an intentional characteristic of the program which provides opportunity for our students to work with professional designers other than those on the theatre faculty, and to expose the invited designers to the theatre program at Seattle Pacific University. Student designers are not excluded from Mainstage design positions. Students who have excelled in design classes and are ready for the task of creating work for a Mainstage production are often selected to design one of the aspects of the production under the tutelage of a faculty member.

Next Section: B4c: Studio Theatre and Backstage Production

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