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Theatre Guild archive

 Collection
Call Number: YCAL MSS 436

Scope and Contents

The Theatre Guild Archive consists of a variety of materials that document the history of the Theatre Guild from its earliest productions in 1919 through theatre and film projects in the 1980s and 1990s. Material includes correspondence and subject files relating to individuals, organizations, productions, and projects with which the company was involved; administrative and financial records; scripts and records of stage, radio, television, and film projects; scrapbooks, press books and clippings; costume, lighting and scenic designs and other art work; photographs of productions, events, and individuals; manuscript and printed music and related materials which document the creation, rehearsal, and performance of music composed and/or arranged for theatrical productions conceived of and produced by the Theatre Guild; production programs and publicity material from Theatre Guild and non-Theatre Guild productions; books, serials and other printed material published by the Theatre Guild as well as other publications acquired by Theatre Guild staff; posters and lobby cards; audiovisual materials; and records of projects with which the Theatre Guild and its administrators were affiliated including the Westport Country Playhouse, the Bureau of New Plays, the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy, the Theatre Guild American Repertory Company, and Theatre at Sea.

Dates

  • 1896-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1965

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 1267-1269, 1289-1292, 1303, 1319, and 1328-1333 are restricted pending preservation treatment.

Boxes 1483-1490 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Art 1570-1572, 1599: Restricted fragile. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Box 1597: Restricted fragile. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Broadside 1598: Restricted fragile. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Theatre Guild Archive is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lawrence Langner, Armina Marshall Langner, and Philip Langner, 1957-2004. Series XX. purchased from Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. on the Lydia Winston Malbin Archives Fund and the Sinclair Lewis Fund.

Arrangement

Organized into twenty series: Series I. Correspondence and Subject Files, 1918-1980. Series II. Administrative Files, 1919-1969. Series III. Scripts, 1919-1996. Series IV. Theatre Guild-American Theatre Society Files, 1932-1985. Series V. Play Reports, circa 1920-1963. Series VI. Financial Records, 1919-1970. Series VII. Photographs, 1915-1995. Series VIII. Music. Series IX. Casting Files, circa 1923-1957. Series X. Radio, Television and Motion Picture Files, 1919-1979. Series XI. Theatre Guild American Repertory Company Files, 1952-1962. Series XII. Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1915-1993. Series XIII. Designs and Art Work, 1921-1977. Series XIV. Posters, 1896-1975. Series XV. Associated Projects, 1935-1983. Series XVI. Audiovisual Material, 1924-1979. Series XVII. Production Programs, 1919-1989. Series XVIII. Publications, 1905-1985. Series XIX. Post-Processing Additions, 1921-circa 1980. Series XX. Addition (2016), 1954-1964.

Extent

546.43 Linear Feet ((1531 boxes, 3 cold storage, 1 record album storage) + 9 art, 59 broadsides, 2 oversize broadsides)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.theatreguild

Overview

The Theatre Guild Archive consists of a variety of materials that document the history of the Theatre Guild from its earliest productions in 1919 through theatre and film projects in the 1980s and 1990s. Material includes correspondence and subject files relating to individuals, organizations, productions, and projects with which the company was involved; administrative and financial records; scripts and records of stage, radio, television, and film projects; scrapbooks, press books and clippings; costume, lighting and scenic designs and other art work; photographs of productions, events, and individuals; manuscript and printed music and related materials which document the creation, rehearsal, and performance of music composed and/or arranged for theatrical productions conceived of and produced by the Theatre Guild; production programs and publicity material from Theatre Guild and non-Theatre Guild productions; books, serials and other printed material published by the Theatre Guild as well as other publications acquired by Theatre Guild staff ; posters and lobby cards; audiovisual materials; and records of projects with which the Theatre Guild and its administrators were affiliated including the Westport Country Playhouse, the Bureau of New Plays, the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy, the Theatre Guild American Repertory Company, and Theatre at Sea.

Theatre Guild

Established in New York City in 1919 as an independent theatrical production company, for over 50 years the Theatre Guild sought to improve the standards and quality of American theatre by introducing audiences to new playwrights and forms of dramatic writing, stagecraft, and musical theatre, and broadcasting innovative drama through radio and television. Initially administered by a board of managers, the Theatre Guild was for the greater part of its history co-directed by Lawrence Langner and Theresa Helburn, with Langner’s wife, Armina Marshall Langner, and son, Philip Langner, serving in several administrative roles.

The Theatre Guild produced over 225 stage productions including world and American premieres of plays by Eugene O’Neill and Bernard Shaw with whom Lawrence Langner and Theresa Helburn developed close personal, as well as professional, relationships. Works by Maxwell Anderson, Philip Barry, S. N. Berhman, Sidney Howard, Lynn Riggs, Robert Sherwood, and Leonard Spigelgass as well as many other American and European playwrights were introduced to American audiences by the Theatre Guild. The company had a major impact on American musical theatre, with productions including DuBose Heyward and George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Carousel. The Theatre Guild also cultivated many talented theatre artists who went on to form companies of their own, including the Group Theatre and the Playwrights’ Company.

In order to develop audiences the Theatre Guild established audience subscription programs first in New York and then in several cities across the United States. With the creation of the Theatre Guild-American Theatre Society in the 1930s, the Theatre Guild toured its own productions as well as those by other producers in numerous cities throughout North America. The Theatre Guild on the Air radio show and the U.S. Steel Hour television program brought adaptations of Theatre Guild stage scripts as well as new plays written specifically for these productions into American homes throughout the country. In 1961, at the invitation of the United States State Department, the Theatre Guild American Repertory Company toured three American plays to Europe, South America, and the Middle East. The Theatre Guild was also associated with the promotion and/or production of motion pictures including Henry V, Hamlet, The Pawnbroker, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Slaves. In the 1970s the Theatre Guild Abroad tours and Theatre at Sea cruises provided opportunities for theatre fans to enjoy performances as they traveled.

Processing Information

The Theatre Guild Archive was acquired by the Library in many separate accessions from 1957 until 2004. The contents of the accessions ranged from large runs of correspondence, financial records, and photographic files, to smaller groups of material in various formats representing a range of Theatre Guild activities. Due to the number and types of accessions, and the varying methods of arrangement and housing by Library staff over fifty years, it is impossible to determine how all the records were originally organized and maintained in the Theatre Guild offices. In processing the collection the library staff worked to maintain as much original order as was evident, and devised an organization of the records to best facilitate discovery and access.

Paper “flags” have been inserted in folders to indicate various preservation issues that need to be addressed. These flags must not be removed or relocated.
Title
Guide to the Theatre Guild Archive
Author
by Susan Brady, Clayton McGahee, and Andrea Benefiel
Date
2013
Language of description
In English.

Revision Statements

  • 2018 February 14: Added Series XX.

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977