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University of Alberta Studio Theatre Series
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The University of Alberta Alumni Studio A was registered as a Society on May 4th, 1956. Membership was open to any person who was an alumnus of the University of Alberta provided their membership was approved by a majority vote of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors, consisting of a President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, and two directors met monthly, while general meetings were planned annually. The head of the Studio Theatre was an ex-officio member of the board during his term of office. Studio Theatre provided rehearsal space, underwrote the expenses of the plays, and had a share of Alumni Studio's profits. The alumni who joined this organization were often Drama Department graduates who wished to remain involved with the University theatre scene. The Alumni Studio players staged productions during the Studio Theatre season, Alumni Players acting alongside current University of Alberta drama students in regular season productions. The Alumni Studio A Society appears to have functioned until the mid-1960's, and gradually dwindling out as Studio Theatre focused more on students in the drama program filling all the positions related to the production. While very brief, the Alumni Studio A records that follow provide a variety of information on the Society.

Torches Theatre opened in June of 1962 as an outdoor summer theatre. It was an idea of Gordon Peacock's, based on his experience of seeing Shakespeare staged in the open at Central Park in New York. Torches Theatre was situated in the south courtyard of Corbett Hall, which permitted access to the Studio Theatre switchboard for lights and power. The entrance to the courtyard was marked with two burning torches that prior to the performance were placed on either side of the stage; hence the name "Torches" Theatre. The outdoor stage was a raised platform, four feet high with steps up to it and levels above it for a second story. The audience, which could number over 200, sat on wooden chairs on the lawn; in case of rain, the theatre was moved indoors to the Studio Theatre stage. Productions played nightly and were usually staged from early July until mid-August. Productions staged in the first summer at Torches included Dark of the Moon, Under Milkwood, and Our Town.

Torches was a semi-professional theatre; a 1967 press release states that: "each acting fellow will be paid $75.00 per week for the performance period and $50.00 per week for the rehearsal periods." This press release advertises pay rates for positions in acting, production and box office. By 1967, the Torches productions were touring the province, performing in a number of communities in Alberta prior to their regular summer season.

The Torches records consist of eighteen production books dating from 1962 to 1969. They provide valuable information about the Torches summer productions, and are listed below.

The files are arranged chronologically by date of production.

University of Alberta Studio Theatre

Production files

Series consists of records documenting the technical, operative, and administrative activities of Studio Theatre productions. Records include programs, news clippings, and promotion material. The more recent files contain more records including background production research notes, financial records, and correspondence. A production file was maintained for each production. Title based on content of the files. photographs and oversize items were removed from the files and stored separately; news clippings were photocopied on to acid neutral paper and the original clippings removed. The files are maintained in chronological order by date of production.

University of Alberta Studio Theatre

Design Records

The items in this series provide a sample of the set designs and plans and costume designs created for Studio Theatre productions. Only a small proportion of the Studio Theatre productions are represented in this series, although the representation is increased if the production books plans and designs are considered.
The items are arranged as:

  1. Costume designs
  2. Set designs
  3. Set plans
    The order is chronological by production date. The costume designs are hand drawn and coloured and usually identified by the name of the character. Set designs, like costume designs, are hand drawn and coloured. The set plans include details on set elevations, prop placement, and stage dimenions. Designs are fragile and composed on low grade paper. Many are over sized and stored seperately.

University of Alberta Studio Theatre

Administrative Records

Series consists of five correspondence files addressing a variety of administrative concerns. Much of the correspondence is written to or from Gordon Peacock, in his capacity as Associate Professor of Drama. The series also includes annual reports and interdepartmental memorandums. Correspondents also include significant theatre personalities including H.G. Glyde and Betty Mitchell. The series title is based on the content of the records.

University of Alberta Studio Theatre