Scope and arrangement
The Gene Feist Papers document the personal and professional life of American artistic director, playwright, producer, director, and teacher Gene Feist and the history of the Roundabout Theatre Company, one of New York's most acclaimed and successful non-for-profit theatre companies. Types of materials in this collection include personal correspondence, production files, topical files, drafts of scripts, photographs, playbills and programs, reviews, publicity materials, business files and personal ephemera.
Series I, Gene Feist consists of materials pertaining to Feist's personal and professional life apart from his work with the Roundabout Theatre Company. Feist's pre-Roundabout professional activities include his work as a playwright, critic, teacher, and director. This material includes correspondence with colleagues such as the renowned acting teachers Yale Wexler and Stella Adler, the latter of whom was also a longtime close personal friend of Feist and his wife. Correspondence with other friends includes, most substantially, letters to and from Thelma Laird Magers Lauer. Feist dated her in the 1940s and they remained lifelong friends after their marriages to other people. His extensive correspondence with her, over a period of fifty years, provides an invaluable autobiographical documentation of his adult life. Other correspondents include Feist's wife, Kathe, and their daughters, Gena and Nicole.
Feist's Writings consist mainly of drafts of plays Feist wrote, adapted or translated and his articles and reviews for the Chelsea-Clinton News. Other writings include drafts and excerpts from novels, short stories, and poems, his thesis, and a proposed nonfiction work on the history of the American theatre. There are also files and scrapbooks concerning, regional and community theatres, schools, and camps where Feist served as director, artistic director or producer. These include New Rochelle High School, Manitou-wabing Camp of Fine Arts in Parry Sound, Ontario and the New Theatre Nashville. There are also subject files on people, places, productions, schools as well as significant topics/events, such as Feist's teaching certifications.
Feist also worked on Theatron: A Festival of Four Staged Readings of New Israeli Plays, produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre, in association with the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Education. Of particular interest are several scripts of plays, in translation, by Israeli authors submitted to the Theatron for inclusion in the festival
Series II: Roundabout Theatre Company contains institutional files of the Roundabout, from its founding in 1965 through 2000. Materials include an extensive collection of production shots from Roundabout productions, as well as playbills, programs and posters. Other production files include scripts, correspondence, set designs and publicity materials. Company records include subject files on individuals and organizations with which the Roundabout had contact; business files, including contracts, negotiations, legal and financial records. Also included are administrative files on classes, conservatories and conferences run by the Roundabout, including transcripts of classes taught by Feist. Scrapbooks of articles, correspondence, designs and photographs document the Roundabout's moves over the years between seven different theatres in Chelsea and Midtown. The production shots, posters and playbills in this collection are an extraordinary resource, visually documenting the Roundabout's history from its inception through the 1990s. Although Feist stepped down as Artistic Director in 1988, this collection also covers the following 10 years, when Feist was still actively involved in the Roundabout's productions as a consultant.
The Gene Feist papers are arranged in two series:
- circa 1930-199641 boxes
- 1965-200030 boxes