Scope and arrangement
The additions to the New York Shakespeare Festival Records document the Festival's activities from 1968-2010. These records illuminate all aspects of the inner workings of prominent New York theatre company. They document major and minor productions produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival/The Public Theater at their off-Broadway theatre complex in the East Village, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and occasionally, on Broadway. Special projects, festivals and performances at Joe's Pub are also represented. The collection includes administrative files, playwright files and director files. Types of materials are scripts, correspondence, research materials, publicity materials, rehearsal and performance reports, photographs, interviews and sheet music.
The bulk of the material from the years covered in Series I: 1968-1990 was previously donated to the New York Public Library by the New York Shakespeare Festival. The majority of the files on the Public's activities from this period can be found in The New York Shakespeare Festival Records, 1954-1991, *T-Mss 1993-028. This series consists of additional materials covering some of that period. Some of these materials were in an alphabetical range, others in subject headings and others arranged by season. Most production files are listed alphabetically by show titles. Series II: 1992-2010 is arranged chronologically, by season, and alphabetically within each season by show title or subject. The season files cover specific productions, festivals and other special events as well as literary files kept on contributing playwrights.
The additions to the New York Shakespeare Festival Records include a large collection of audio/visual items, such as recordings of rehearsals and live performances of Public Productions, demos for shows (usually musicals) being submitted to the Public for consideration. There are also recordings here maintained as background research for the Public's dramaturgy department. Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the collection may be directed to the Billy Rose Theatre Division at firstname.lastname@example.org. Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation and migration prior to access.
The New York Shakespeare Festival Records, Additions are arranged in two series:
This series covers the Public's activities between 1968 and 1992, including alphabetical show files, season files, playwright files, director files and subject files. Production files consist of such materials as audition and rehearsal notes, scripts, publicity materials, programs and background research materials. While there are some productions in the season files, the majority of these consist of special projects and readings, pertaining to music, poetry and theater, such as Jazz at the Public, New Music, Poets at the Public, and the annual Festival Latino. These additional materials include production files, files on television versions of Public productions, administrative files. This series includes director and playwright files, which document the Public's relationships with the artists who worked there. There are various architectural files and documents, detailing plans for the construction of the Public's theaters.
This series contains the institutional records of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater from 1992-2010, arranged in season files which cover specific productions, festivals and other special events as well as literary files kept on contributing playwrights.
The productions files, listed alphabetically within each season, contain copious research conducted and maintained by the Public's thorough dramaturgy department. These research files were kept on many major productions, especially new works with period settings or historical backgrounds. The department also did extensive research on the Shakespeare plays. Even though the Public had produced some of them many times before, the department approached each production afresh. Materials include articles, notes, timelines, photographs and in the case of Anna Deveare Smith's Let Me Down Easy, which was developed at the Public, but eventually produced at the Second Stage Theatre, transcribed interviews with victims of recent wars and natural disasters.
There are drafts of scripts and in many cases, multiple revisions illustrating the level of the Public's involvement in the creative process and commitment to nurturing the talents of playwrights, whether a new author seeing their first professional production or one of the many established playwrights who returned to the Public many times throughout their careers. Playwright files, maintained over many years, will be listed in the season in which they were archived by the Public's administrative staff and taken out of active use. These include files, by author or by play title, documenting works in development through annotated scripts, notes and correspondence. The Public was a pioneer in its commitment to nurturing playwrights from minority groups which had previously been under-represented in the American theatre, focusing on African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.
Administrative files; such as correspondence, agreements, cast lists, contact sheets, rehearsal notes and schedules and performance reports; for many productions are also here. Occasionally there are scores for musicals or plays with incidental music, including new musical settings of songs from the Shakespeare plays. The technical aspects of production, including costume, lighting and scenic design are only occasionally represented. There are publicity materials, such as flyers, mailers, articles, press releases and programs. Files on some programming for Joe's Pub, the Public's Cabaret are held in this series.