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University of Alberta Studio Theatre Fonds
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University of Alberta Studio Theatre fonds

  • Fonds 426
  • Fonds
  • 1949-2009

The records in the Studio Theatre fonds span a period of more than forty years. They offer record of a long-standing and innovative working theatre deeply involved in the Edmonton arts community, as well as documenting an important component of the University of Alberta's drama department program. Studio Theatre has contributed immensely to the development of theatre in Alberta and Canada, as witnessed by the number of individuals working in theatre across the country who have participated and gained experience on the Studio Theatre stage.

The records have been arranged and described in six series, with a basic chronological order maintained within each series. There is information about almost every play produced on the Studio Theatre stage between 1949 and 1991. Information tends to be fairly skimpy for the earlier productions; a production file might only contain a program and review clipping. As the years progress, more and more information is included with the production file. Reports from technical crew heads, front of house reports, financial records and publicity clippings are routinely kept. The production books, described in Series III, often provide the most detailed and varied information about a production. These books are production scrapbooks, and include programs, reports, clippings, telegrams, related correspondence, photographs, set plans, cast lists, and much more. Almost all of the production books have a copy of the script, used by the director as a prompt script and annotated with movement blocking, directions, and notes. In some production books, the director has included a written commentary critiquing various aspects of the production; theme may also be discussed, and background research notes about the play and playwright included.

With over 4000 photographic images (prints, negatives, and contacts) represented in the fonds, it is possible to get a 'visual' sense of the productions. Many productions are represented by both 'official' and 'candid' shots, and there are views of actors, sets, and costumes. The photographs vary in quality of picture as well as physical condition of print. Also documented in the Studio Theatre records are production posters, costume designs and set plans. Again, a researcher may have to consult the production book (Series III) as well as the specific media listing (Series IV) to see all available documents in these areas.

Not represented very extensively in these records is administrative documentation; a researcher interested in Studio Theatre administration should consult the general drama department records. The administrative records that are available in this fond consist of the correspondence files described in Series I. Torches Theatre records are also fairly sketchy, consisting of production books for the years 1962-1969.

The Studio Theatre records are a valuable contribution to theatre history documentation at the University of Alberta, and the City of Edmonton. They provide a glimpse of the people involved in drama during a formative time for theatre development in Edmonton. Social history is revealed through the plays chosen for production at Studio Theatre, mirroring the issues and trends in the wider society. Classical and contemporary plays, some experimental and others quite traditional, are all a part of Studio Theatre's production legacy.

The records have been arranged and described as six series, and a detailed series and file list follows. A brief description is provided of each series, followed by the file listing. A production index is found at the end of the inventory to assist in locating specific files.

Because the Studio Theatre records were received at the Archives as several deposits over a period of years, there was a need to bring the records together intellectually to better aid researchers looking for as complete a picture as possible. A basic chronological arrangement was maintained, with series arrangements assigned by the archivist to reflect function and format of the records.

The records are in good physical shape. The bound production books tend to be somewhat fragile and archivally compromised because of their 'scrapbook' quality. The paper in the books is very acidic, and items have often been attached with glue and scotch tape. Newspaper clippings are taped beside photographs, and oversize plans folded to fit the books. The binding of the production books is good, however, and no attempt was made to remove affixed items from the books. The pages with attached photographs were interleaved with acid-free tissue paper. In the production show files, newspaper clippings were photocopied and originals removed, and photographs were separated from the textual file for separate storage and description. The photographs vary in quality, and physical shape and it is obvious that they were handled a lot in the course of choosing publicity shots, etc. Contact prints and 35mm negatives are available for many of the productions. Where possible, oversize items have been flattened and stored separately.

University of Alberta Studio Theatre