Early in Missouri Southern theatre program’s history, necessity became the mother of invention. The campus had moved to its current location but had no facility for staging plays.
The Barn Theatre, located on the west side of campus (next to the brick silo that still stands) was converted in the fall of 1967 from barn to theatre. A change of plans that eliminated a proposed theatre for the new Missouri Southern campus caused Drama teacher Milton Brietzke to undertake converting the old barn into a venue for plays and classes.
Limited to a budget of $30,000, most of the work had to be done by a few college employees including Brietzke and Drama teacher Duane Hunt.
The ground floor was used for auxiliary services while the stage and auditorium were located in the hayloft with a stage only 20 feet wide by 18 feet deep and a seating capacity of 144, the Barn Theatre provided a large measure of intimacy but its limitations taxed the ingenuity of those putting on a play. Though considered temporary, the Barn Theatre was home to the Drama Department for the next nine years.
It opened on October 20, 1967 with a two-day performance of Anna Karenina. The historic theatre was gutted by fire in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 1990, making it necessary to raze the structure. Investigators ruled that the fire was set by an arsonist, but no suspect has ever been apprehended.