A Description of the Technical Aspects of Missouri Vanguard Theatre
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Missouri Vanguard Theatre is a small professional touring company with its base at the University of Missouri—Kansas City. This touring company performs primarily in the rural areas of the State of Missouri before audiences of all ages. The philosophy of performing for people of all ages has become the ambition of Missouri Vanguard, and the programs presented by Vanguard are expanding each year to encompass this philosophy. Many of the touring restrictions and limitations placed upon the technical operations of Missouri Vanguard are complex and interrelated. But one of the primary restricting factors to the operation of Vanguard is imposed by the allotted budget, which limits the number of actors and technicians hired, the number of vehicles rented, the type of scenery and lighting used, and most importantly, the scenic style of productions presented. Missouri Vanguard performs in very few buildings equipped with adequate theatre producing facilities; consequently, many existing physical conditions in the theatre plants often place limitations and restrictions upon the manner of technical operation and execution. For example, the location of the unloading area, the height of the stage ceiling, the arrangement of audience seating, and the accessibility of the electric power sources are but a few of these restricting factors. The Vanguard technicians are obligated to operate within the limitations imposed by such things as the budget, pre-tour deadlines, truck capacities, theatre plants, and the ritual of daily tour schedules, and still construct scenery and purchase equipment that is rugged, durable and of high scenic quality. In 1968, the first year of the Vanguard tour, many technical failings resulted from the technicians' lack of experience with touring. After the first tour, with the limited experience gained, the technicians progressed to the use of better and faster means of executing their technical work. The modified method of scenery construction for two-dimensional scenery has now become standardized, and an inventory of durable, stock flats has been increasing each year. Three-dimensional scenery and set properties are being constructed so that they break down into smaller units for both storage and handling. Both ornamental elements of scenery and dress properties have been a problem in the past, and they will probably continue to remain so simply because they are delicate necessities which often are unique to a particular production and present special problems of construction and handling. Vanguard has progressed from renting to owning lighting equipment. In the process or acquiring lighting equipment to tour, some selections have proven to be better than others. The most extensive improvements have been made in the lighting for the out-front positions and in the portable, legged onstage light batten. After five years of successful touring, improvements in Vanguard’s technical program are still being made. Past experiences of the seasoned technicians and new ideas of younger technicians are invaluable to the technical growth of Vanguard. Missouri Vanguard Theatre has played to well over one hundred thousand people in its five years of existence. A total of forty-two productions and classroom programs has afforded the people in the rural areas of Missouri the opportunity to experience live theatre.
Table of Contents
Budget and technical production -- Theatre facilities and technical production -- Two-dimensional scenery -- Three-dimensional scenery -- Properties and technical production -- Lighting and technical production -- Sound equipment and technical production -- Portage and technical production -- Time allocation and technical production -- Suggested improvements in technical production --Appendix A. Thumbnail sketch of an average technical day -- Appendix B. Author's notes