Robert Patrick was a founding father of the off-off Broadway scene; it's most produced and most prolific playwright. He was also a contributor to the growth of gay theater. Patrick is now best known for his play Kennedy's Children . The Robert Patrick Papers include production materials, photographs, scripts and other writings.
Biographical/historical: Robert Patrick was a founding father of the off-off Broadway scene; it's most produced and most prolific playwright. He was also a contributor to the growth of gay theater. Patrick is now best known for his play Kennedy's Children.
Robert Patrick was born Robert Patrick O'Connor on September 27, 1937 in Kilgore, Texas. He came to New York City in 1961, and was soon a part Caffe Cino, the legendary off-off Broadway theater. Caffe Cino produced Patrick's first play, The Haunted Host, which also proved to be a breakthrough in gay theater. Over the next ten years his career blossomed with anywhere from 130 to 300 productions of his scripts occurring in a variety of underground theaters (like La Mama or the Old Reliable Theatre Tavern). In 1973 Patrick was nominated for a record five Obies.
The same year, the Clark Center mounted the first production of Kennedy's Children. An actor from the show, Don Parker, optioned the play. By 1974 it was beginning a two-week run in the King's Head Pub Theatre in Islington, England. The show was so successful that after eventually extending its run many times, it eventually moved to a theater in London's West End. International productions quickly followed, including one on Broadway at the Golden Theatre.
Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s Patrick continued to write at his usual feverish pace, while simultaneously traveling to see his works produced. He often gave guest lectures, directed, or in other ways personally helped with productions all around the world. From 1979 to 1982 Patrick wrote a regular column about off-off Broadway for the theatrical paper Other Stages.
In 1990 he directed his last play in New York, Hello, Bob, about his worldwide experiences with Kennedy’s Children. After three years of travel, writing and directing cross-country, Patrick settled in Los Angeles and began ghostwriting for television and films. In 1994 he published Temple Slave, a novel about the origins of off-off Broadway. Patrick received the Robert Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement in Gay Theatre in 1997. He continues to write and is living in Los Angeles, “strictly for the sunshine”.
Content: While the papers of Robert Patrick span several decades, the majority of the collection was created from 1975-1979. The heart of the collection is the production materials (including many photographs) from the numerous productions of Patrick's works. Kennedy’s Children is particularly well represented in all of its international incarnations. Among many others, The Haunted Host, Mercy Drop and T-shirts all have openly homosexual themes and each contributed to the growth of gay theater. The scripts are heavily annotated and can provide insight into the playwright’s working process. Patrick wrote about his involvement with the birth of off-off Broadway and gay theater in various articles, that can be found in the Articles sub-series, including a folder solely regarding Caffe Cino. Additionally, the Press sub-series contains interviews that elaborate on his history of unwavering support of alternative theater, gay theater, and gay rights. Other than some of the correspondence and photographs, this collection contains very little personal material. Notable people found throughout the collection include contemporary playwrights Harvey Fierstein (also star of The Haunted Host), Lanford Wilson and Doric Wilson.
Content: Sound recordings separated to the Rodgers and Hammerstein archive of Recorded Sound, New York Public Library