“Trust the magic of new beginnings”
As we get ready to commence our unique and specialized 58th season of Tent Theatre, with ‘Tune In To Tent Part 1 only being one week away, we thought it would be important to take a look back on the history of this summer tradition and see just how exactly it got to where we are now.
Starting in 1963, Theatre professors Robert Gilmore and Irene Coger met with the head of the English Department Dick Haswell to discuss the problem of keeping their primary theatre in Carrington Hall cool since air conditioning was not common. The windows in the theatre did not allow adequate airflow, so they needed a space that could. The solution was the very first Tent Theatre. Featured to the right, the first tent constructed was 55-feet across, round, had tangerine and green stripes, and sat an audience of 200 people. It became clear after the first year alone that an expansion was necessary as they consistently performed for sold-out shows. The tent would expand as early as the following summer, with several more expansions down-the-line. The tent would eventually become primarily white in color, rectangular in shape, and seat almost 400 patrons.
The first seasons of Tent originally ran on a ten-week production schedule and actually had four shows per season. The first season in 1963 included, in order, Come Blow Your Horn, High Button Shoes (featured in the photograph), The Miser, and Little Mary Sunshine. Four shows would be the standard season until Tent’s 9th season in 1971 with HMS Pinafore, The Tender Trap, and The Apple Tree.
Another exciting change would come in the summer of 2007 when Marketing Director Mark Templeton and Artistic Director Michael Casey met with Actors’ Equity in Chicago to make Tent Theatre an official professional theatre company. The first show the following summer under their new agreement was Cyrano de Bergerac. Tent Theatre has worked under full U/RTA agreement ever since, allowing collegiate performers to work with professional performers and technicians from all over the country.
Thank you for joining us on this brief historical look of our beloved Tent Theatre. More information on Tent Theatre including its history, past productions, and how to get involved can be found here https://tenttheatre.missouristate.edu/about.htm. Join us next week on July 9th at 7:30pm for our first virtual episode of our 58th season’s ‘Tune In To Tent Part 1’ special. R.S.V.P. and find more information on our Tent Theatre Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/tenttheatre.