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Frank Alonzo McMullan papers

Call Number: MS 1470

Scope and Contents

The Frank McMullan Papers contain correspondence, topical files, lecture notes, production files and promptbooks, typescripts and manuscripts, photographs, costume and set drawings, and printed material relating to McMullan's career in educational and professional theatre. The six linear feet of papers are arranged in four series: I. Correspondence and Topical Files, 1945-1966; II. Writings and Lecture Materials, 1931-1976; III. Production Files and Promptbooks, 1933-1967; and IV. Photographic Material, 1925-1972.

The bulk of the CORRESPONDENCE AND TOPICAL FILES (Series I) dates from 1945 to 1966 and relates to McMullan's activities as a theatre educator and director at universities and professional theatres in the United States and abroad. The series includes McMullan's correspondence with Sir Barry Jackson and Leonard Crainford relating to McMullan's production at Stratford-on-Avon, England; correspondence, reports and printed material relating to McMullan's work in Chile, Panama, and the United Arab Republic; personal and work-related correspondence with Allardyce Nicoll, Peter Brook, and John Shubert. No files relating specifically to McMullan's administrative activities at the Yale School of Drama are contained in the papers. The correspondence files of Kingman Brewster, Walter P. Eaton and Allardyce Nicoll provide some insight into that aspect of his career.

Series II, WRITINGS AND LECTURE MATERIALS, dates from 1931 to 1976 and consists of teaching files containing notes and newspaper and magazine clippings which relate to dramatic theorists, playwrights, directors, actors and aspects of theatrical production; manuscripts and typescripts of lectures; notes, clippings and typescripts relating to his book Directing Shakespeare in the Contemporary Theatre.Two files, "Drama 27" and "Play Directing (Course Syllabus)" date from McMullan's graduate study at Yale.

Series III, PRODUCTION FILES AND PROMPTBOOKS, consists of correspondence, notes, clippings, cast lists, set and costume sketches, promptbooks, and programs relating to productions which McMullan directed in educational and professional theatres in the United States, England, Chile, and Panama.

The bulk of PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL (Series IV) consists of photoprints and slides of theatrical productions which were directed by McMullan and others. In addition, there are portrait and candid photoprints of McMullan and photoprints of other individuals, institutions and course-related subjects.


  • 1939-1976


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of John McMullan, 1987.


Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence and Topical Files, 1945-1966. II. Writings and Lecture Materials, 1931-1976. III. Production Files and Promptbooks, 1933-1967. IV. Photographic Material, 1925-1972.


6 Linear Feet (16 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, topical files, lecture notes, production files and prompt books, typescripts and manuscripts, photographs, costume and set drawings, and printed material documenting Frank McMullan's career in educational and professional theatre.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Alonzo McMullan, son of Birda Cornelia Brown McMullan and Wilson Henry McMullan, was born in Jonesboro, Georgia on October 12, 1907. He graduated from Boy's High School, Atlanta, in 1925, received a B.A. from the University of Georgia in 1928, and the LL.B. from the Atlanta Law School in 1930. In 1934 McMullan completed the three year M.F.A. program in drama at Yale, where he studied with George Pierce Baker, Alexander Dean, and Allardyce Nicoll.

From 1934 to 1936, McMullan was on the faculty of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and was co-director of the Stephens College Theater. In 1936 he joined the Yale drama faculty as assistant professor of play production and was acting chairman of the drama department from 1941-1943. From 1943 to 1945 he served in the United States Army where he directed the soldier shows program in New York City for the Special Services division. From 1945 to 1965 McMullan was the head of the directing department at Yale, and until his death was associate professor emeritus of play production at the Yale School of Drama.

McMullan was the director of the University of Vermont School of Drama summer sessions from 1937-1940, and guest directed at numerous professional and educational theatres, including Wellesley (Massachusetts) Playhouse; the University of Arkansas; Ohio State University; University of Connecticut Summer Theatre; Shakespeare Festival (San Diego, California); the Champlain Shakespeare Festival (Burlington, Vermont).

In addition to his work in the United States, McMullan was involved in a number of international educational and professional theatre activities. With his production of Measure for Measure in 1946, McMullan became the first American to direct a Shakespearean play at Stratford-on-Avon, England.

In 1958 McMullan received a Fulbright grant to Chile where he was guest director and lecturer in theatre arts at the Teatro Experimental of the University of Chile and Teatro de Ensayo of Catholic University of Santiago. His direction of the Latin American premiere of Look Homeward, Angel at the Teatro Experimental, and a production of The Taming of the Shrew at the Teatro Ensayo earned him the Chilean national award for directing. As a recipient of a Smith-Mundt grant to Panama in 1959, McMullan assisted in establishing a theatre program and directed The Matchmaker at the University of Panama. In 1962 he organized and headed a performing arts mission to the United Arab Republic on behalf of the United States Department of State and National Guidance of the United Arab Republic.

In 1950 McMullan directed stage and film versions of Telephone Pioneers for the Southern New England Telephone Company, and in 1954 his production of The Merry Wives of Windsor was televised for the NBC series "Omnibus." Between 1956 and 1957 McMullan appeared on his own weekly televison series on station WNHC in New Haven, Connecticut.

McMullan contributed articles to Theatre Arts, Players Magazine and Education Theatre Journal, and authored One World in Drama (1950), Play Interpretation and Direction (1951) (translated into Spanish in 1959), Producing Shakespeare (1954), Shakespeare: Of an Age and for All Time (1954), The Directorial Image (1962), The Director's Handbook (1964), and Directing Shakespeare in the Contemporary Theatre (1974).

McMullan married Elizabeth Eckhard on March 26, 1938 and was the father of two sons, David and John McMullan. Elizabeth McMullan died on December 5, 1977. McMullan subsequently married the former Audrey Tower. Frank McMullan died in Canaan, Connecticut on September 7, 1987.

Guide to the Frank Alonzo McMullan Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Brady and Rachel Pomerantz
March 1988
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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