Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

E. G. Gabbard


This paper is the description of a creative fine arts project involving the direction and design of a full-length musical theatre production within a very low working budget. The purpose of this project was to create a work which showed how the arts of theatre, music, dance, and visual art may be combined to achieve a total presentation of the arts in one package, while demonstrating how it may be presented in an economically feasible manner. It is hoped that this work will provide directors of amateur organizations, such as community theatres, with a guide for step-by-step preparation for the direction of a play or musical which has proven successful for others.

This “Bootstrap” Theatre Project offers ideas to aid a group whose budget approaches nil to take on a production that will enable the group to “pull itself up by its own bootstraps” and aid it in building the budget to continue the production of future shows.

This work documents my concepts and reasoning for the choice of production and the separate visual elements chosen to express the work. Included are suggestions for determining the choice of the show and a list of arrangements that must be made in order to result in a smooth, organized flow of activity from casting to performance. A basic rehearsal schedule is provided so that other directors might gauge the pacing of rehearsal time.

The main directorial aid is a detailed prompt book including a brief history of the chosen show (The Fantasticks), a plot summary, directing analysis, character sketches, and set, costume, lighting, and prop plots.

I wish to increase the awareness of readers of this paper of the many steps necessary to put together a work of this type for the stage. Carefully prepared organization of a show seems to be the most valuable tool a director has at his disposal to insure a successful production. This “learn-by-doing” process has lent knowledge through hands-on experience which has familiarized me with the process which will, I hope, prove successful in aiding future directors of similar productions.