New York Shakespeare Festival records

Collection Data

Description
The New York Shakespeare Festival records (1954-1992) measure approximately 850 linear feet and consist of scripts, correspondence, inter-office memoranda, production materials, reports, financial records, photographs, and memorabilia. The records reflect the origin and activities of the New York Shakespeare Festival, its general administration, and the staging of its productions, including their creation, management, booking, and promotion. The files of the Casting Office, except in the form of carbon copies in other series, are not included in this archive. There are also gaps in the files of the Associate Producer. Contracts were removed and require special permission of the curator to access. Oral history materials in Series I and some correspondence in Series V are restricted until the year 2043 in order to protect the privacy of individual persons. Series XIV (Oversized Materials) is not fully processed and is currently unavailable for research.
Names
Papp, Joseph (Creator)
New York Shakespeare Festival Productions (Creator)
Goodstein, Gerry
Jeffry, Alix
Joseph, George E.
Marcus, Joan
Migdoll, Herbert
Ohringer, Frederic
Regan, Ken
Rosegg, Carol
Swope, Martha
Friedman-Abeles
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1954 - 1992
Library locations
Billy Rose Theatre Division
Shelf locator: *T-Mss 1993-028
Topics
Gersten, Bernard
Hamlisch, Marvin
Hare, David, 1947-
Havel, Václav
MacDermot, Galt
Miller, Jason, 1939-2001
Moses, Robert, 1888-1981
Papp, Gail Merrifield
Papp, Joseph
Rabe, David
Shange, Ntozake
Sullivan, Arthur, 1842-1900
Swados, Elizabeth
Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950
Delacorte Theater (New York, N.Y.)
Festival Latino en Nueva York
Heckscher Theater (New York, N.Y.)
New York Shakespeare Festival Productions
New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater
New York Shakespeare Festival. Mobile Theater
New York Shakespeare Festival. New Jazz at the Public
Costume design -- New York (State) -- New York
Dramatists, American -- 20th century
Hispanic American theater -- New York (State) -- New York
Musical theater -- United States -- 20th century
Musicals
New York Shakespeare Festival Productions
Playwriting
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Dramatic production
Stage lighting
Theater -- New York (State) -- New York
Theater -- Production and direction
Theatrical producers and directors
Theatrical productions -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century
Genres
charts (graphic documents)
clippings (information artifacts)
contracts
correspondence
financial records
memorabilia
memorandums
photographs
programs (documents)
prompt books
scripts (documents)
swatches
technical drawings
Notes
Biographical/historical: Joseph Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1954 in New York City. It was initially chartered as the Shakespeare Workshop, an actors' workshop presenting Shakespeare and his Elizabethan contemporaries free of charge in the basement of the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church and in the Heckscher Theater. The original aim was to cultivate and encourage interest in Shakespeare and classic drama, to present an annual Shakespeare festival, and to build an Elizabethan-style stage to present Shakespeare's works. During the fifties, Papp fought to obtain financial support from the City of New York in order to establish a subsidized, free Shakespearean theater. Eventually, Papp won a court battle with New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses to keep his Shakespeare productions free to the public. In 1957, the New York Shakespeare Festival flatbed truck, which toured the city parks and playgrounds with performances of Shakespeare, broke down near Belvedere Lake in Central Park. On that site they constructed the Delacorte Theater, which opened in 1962. Papp relentlessly promoted the concept of free Shakespeare. He solicited support from foundations, corporations, political officials, and individual philanthropists. During the sixties, Papp extended the reach of the New York Shakespeare Festival by bringing Shakespeare to the outer boroughs of New York City and the tri-state area. He created the Mobile Theater, which toured the public schools, religious institutions, and civic organizations. In 1965, the New York Shakespeare Festival purchased the landmark Astor Library building on Lafayette Street, and the city funded its conversion into the new Public Theater. Papp then added to the New York Shakespeare Festival's mission a new mandate: to produce new American plays. The Public Theater was inaugurated in 1967 with the production of the musical Hair. The Public Theater became the administrative home of the New York Shakespeare Festival and the laboratory for many original plays and musicals by David Rabe, Elizabeth Swados, Thomas Babe, Miguel Piñero, and many others. It was also home to many actors who found recognition through their association with the Festival, such as Colleen Dewhurst, James Earl Jones, Raul Julia, Kevin Kline, and Meryl Streep. During the seventies, the New York Shakespeare Festival's production schedule became increasingly prolific, moving many productions to Broadway, most notably Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Chorus Line, That Championship Season, and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide (When the Rainbow Is Enuf). The New York Shakespeare Festival earned an international reputation for theatrical innovation and received numerous awards. Papp expanded the Festival into the areas of dance, music and poetry, producing new plays by young playwrights that reflected contemporary issues. In 1974, the Festival was invited to become a constituent of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. During the next four years, the New York Shakespeare Festival produced In the Boom Boom Room, Short Eyes, and The Threepenny Opera, among others, and achieved both notoriety and acclaim for its innovative staging of classics and production of new, often controversial plays. In 1976, the Festival Latino en Nueva York was launched through Papp's efforts and encouragement, and became an annual event. Papp was ever seeking new audiences for the theater, which he believed to be a powerful social force. In the seventies, The New York Shakespeare Festival expanded into television production with David Rabe's Sticks and Bones and several Shakespeare plays, then into motion pictures with adaptations of The Pirates of Penzance (1983) and Plenty (1985). The New York Shakespeare Festival participated in a theater exchange program with the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. In addition, the Belasco Project was created to expose high school students to Shakespeare on Broadway, while the PITS Program taught them how to write plays. Papp became ill in the late eighties, and played a less active role in Festival administration and productions. His last major theatrical work was his direction of Bill Gunn's Forbidden City, while his involvement in the controversy over NEA funding marked his final act of public advocacy. Joseph Papp died on October 31, 1991.
Content: The New York Shakespeare Festival Collection (1954-1992) measures 851 linear feet and consists of scripts, notes, correspondence, inter-office memoranda, reports, financial records, photographs, programs, brochures, posters, and productions materials including prompt books, light plots, ground plans, costume plots and bibles, set designs, electrics, prop running sheets, prop preset sheets, prop inventories, light cue sheets, and electrical layouts. The records reflect the origin and activities of the New York Shakespeare Festival, its general administration, and the staging of its productions, including their creation, management, booking, and promotion. Original stage and costume design materials are absent. Also absent are the files of the Casting Office, except in the form of carbon copies in other series. There are also gaps in the files of the Associate Producer. Contracts were removed and require special permission of the curator. Oral history materials and some correspondence are restricted until the year 2043 in order to protect the privacy of individual persons.
Physical Description
Extent: 1803 boxes 851.5 linear feet
Type of Resource
Text
Identifiers
Other local Identifier: *T-Mss 1993-028
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b15059124
MSS Unit ID: 21550
Archives collections id: archives_collections_21550
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 8f2c4550-1293-0137-a6e1-33e54d787cc4
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