The papers of A. J. Antoon contain scripts, photographs, correspondence, writings, contracts and financial papers. Annotated scripts and items from productions Antoon directed make up the bulk of the collection. The collection also contains written works by Antoon including two screenplays.
Biographical/historical: Alfred Joseph Antoon, Jr. (1944-1992) was an award-winning stage director who, at the young age of twenty-seven, was nominated for a Tony Award for two plays in the same year.
A.J. (as he liked to be called) was born December 7, 1944 in Methuen, Massachusetts and became active in the theater arts in high school . After high school, Antoon studied for the priesthood at Shadowbrook Jesuit Seminary in Lenox, Massachusetts and also became a student at Boston College. He earned his bachelor's degree from Boston College in 1968. Antoon was accepted to the Yale School of Drama but left after one-and-a-half years to work in New York.
Antoon's professional directing career began in 1971 with Story Theatre, adaptations of Chekhov and Tolstoy at St. Clement's Church Theatre in New York. That same year he began his association with Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF). Antoon had presented an original play written by Yale friend Robert Montgomery to Papp while at Yale. Papp liked it and offered A.J. the director's job. Subject to Fits opened February 14, 1971 at the Public Theater and became a hit. It later moved to London and was staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Before 1971 was over, Antoon also had directing success with the NYSF production of Shakespeare's Cymbeline.
The year 1973 was Antoon's most award-winning as a director. In that year he was nominated for a Tony Award for both Much Ado About Nothing and That Championship Season. He won the Tony for That Championship Season, and was also given the Drama Desk Award and the Drama Critics Circle Award. Much Ado About Nothing was later adapted for television and ran on CBS as a three-hour special. To cap the year, Antoon received an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater Boston College.
Antoon went on to direct seventeen major plays and musicals, seven of which were Broadway productions. The following are highlights of his professional career that spanned twenty years:
Content: The A.J. Antoon Papers cover the years 1961 to 1991 and contain general and personal correspondence, financial papers, calendars, writings, scripts, photographs, and clippings. The bulk of this collection lies in the Professional Productions series which includes nine boxes (7-15). Most of the items contained in this series are scripts with Antoon's notations, production notes and set design drawings, cast contact sheets, agency correspondence, and contracts and legal agreements.
Antoon was not only a gifted director but a writer as well. There are five boxes of Antoon's writings, box 17 includes writings from Shadowbrook Seminary and Boston College. Boxes 18-21 contain the screenplays of Snow White and Hotheads and the script from his musical version of Treasure Island. Box 22 contains treatments and ideas for proposed productions, most of which were Antoon's original concepts.
Although A.J. Antoon focused his talents on the theater, it must be noted that he did direct the television production of Much Ado About Nothing and a television pilot film for Norman Lear entitled Hereafter. However, this collection does not contain any items from those efforts.