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B.4.c. Studio Theatre and Backstage Production

One of the significant traditions of the University Theatre season is the inclusion of a Studio production of student directed and designed plays. The production, which is usually made up of two or three shorter plays, is student initiated, student directed, and student designed.

These p roductions are of a formal and controlled nature, are “public” but with somewhat fewer external pressures. Since our audience capac­ity is smaller, our focus primarily on the campus community, and our budgetary expendi­tures much less elaborate, our choices of scripts can be somewhat less popular.  More adventuresome!

Since we present most of these productions in the McKinley Studio Theatre (with an occasional foray to the E. E. Bach Backstage, our educational purpose might be said to be that of giving you the opportunity of working in what theatre people call “found” space: storefronts, church basements, old Masonic halls, disused bathhouses, or in this case, a performance classroom with a too-low ceiling and the need for five feet more of everything in all directions.  This is the reality of what many theatre companies deal with on a constant basis.  A look at the Seattle theatre scene provides vivid evidence of that fact; many local production groups—maybe most—have far less than ideal performance space, very little equipment and razor’s-edge budgets.  Apart from the Seattle Repertory Theatre, nearly all the companies at work in the area started out in spaces not originally intended for theatre purposes.

We schedule most studio productions for five performances, usually a Tuesday through a Saturday.  As it does for the mainstage productions, a preview performance serves as final dress rehearsal.  Seating can be arranged in the Studio Theatre or Backstage Theatre for 90 customers, and our ticket prices are less than required for a Mainstage production.  Since our income possibilites are thusly curtailed, the budgets for these productions are more tightly controlled.

The limitations of performance space and the low budget for costumes, place tight restrictions on cast size for these productions.  The UT production calendar and the ongoing use of the Studio Theatre for class purposes create challenges for anything other than minimalist scenery and technical support.

But great theatre can and often does happen in these spaces.   And oftentimes script, production, performer, and audience meld in ways unachievable on the mainstage.  See section C4 for a more extensive explanation of the process for application and requirements of directing or designing a Studio One Acts production.

Next Section: B4d: Laboratory Production

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