If Denver Center Theatre Company finds it feasible, regional audiences who don't have access to professional theatre will experience Equity productions in their hometowns via a hoped for DCTC touring company.
The Tony Award-honored troupe, already boasting four Mile High City venues and an annual ambitious slate of classics, contemporary works and world premieres, will embark on a six-month planning process for the touring company idea, which will present works for family audiences.
This process, announced Jan. 24, will culminate with the June submission of proposals for summer approval by the Board of Trustees of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA). If funding and details can be solved, fall 2002 could see the creation of a new artistic limb of the oaken troupe.
The new initiative aims to create a "touring repertory company" dedicated to the performance of "great theatre works for family audiences" both in Denver and in other communities, according to an announcement. The Actors' Equity-affiliated new company's emphasis would be on the Rocky Mountain region, with first options available to communities surrounding Denver, but touring residencies would be sought across the United States. A touring company would ultimately help raise awareness of the DCTC and build future audiences, said spokesman Chris Wiger.
The touring company would consist of about 30 individuals, including actors, stage managers and technicians. They would set up a residency of less than three weeks but more than weekend in a medium-sized city in a local auditorium and present classic or contemporary works in repertory for "family audiences," but not shying away from full Shakespeare texts or new works, Wiger told Playbill On-Line. Student matinees would be offered, as would evening performances for adults, as well as talkbacks, discussions, and more, "designed to bring a comprehensive artistic/educational experience to the host community." Special care would be taken to include dramatic literature that is (or could be) taught in high school or college curricula. Some of the productions would be selected from past DCTC seasons and remounted for the touring company by the original creative teams.
The touring arm of the DCTC would not mean a less aggressive or smaller seasons in Denver, Wiger cautioned.
The intimate, velvet-walled Ricketson Theatre in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex is proposed as the home venue for the company to rehearse, preview and open its touring repertoire. The touring company would perform in Denver about 16 non-consecutive weeks each year.
In effect, Wiger told Playbill On-Line, the touring troupe would be a kind of "temporary regional theatre" for a community such as Fort Collins, CO, Cheyenne, WY, or other towns that do not have a year-round professional theatre company.
The financial and logistic issues — funding, shipping, housing — will be explored in coming months.
A substantial fund raising effort would be required to support the program, but the strong educational and outreach component would likely lure funding from funders.
The proposal to the DCPA Board will request funding to begin touring an initial repertoire of two productions in the fall of 2002. If approved, programming for the 2003-2004 season will be increased to three productions, reaching the intended maximum of four productions in the 2004-2005 season.
DCTC is also exploring a facility expansion to increase and remodel the DCTC's production and education facilities. The troupe will consider the addition of a fourth floor to combine with existing space to create a laboratory theatre, classrooms, studios, workshops, and offices. The new facilities would provide for the expansion of DCTC educational programs, the addition of the proposed touring company, and the expansion of offices and research laboratories for the Wilbur James Gould Voice Center.
— By Kenneth Jones