Scope and arrangement
The Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre records document over three decades of theatrical work produced by the Cocteau, as well as document the running of a small theater company, from fundraising initiatives and developing annual budgets, to generating publicity. The Cocteau's staff was small and included full-time employees generally consisting of a business manager, an artistic director, a managing director, with a part-time development director. In addition, the Board of Trustees was active in the Cocteau's administration, seeking to provide financial guidance, raise funds, provide support to staff members, and uphold the artistic merit of the theatric performances.
The bulk of the collection consists of production material such as production files, prompt books, and sound recordings and video recordings. Other then a trip to Brazil and residencies at colleges like Baruch and LaGuardia, the Cocteau outreach to other theaters, cities, and neighborhoods, is only nominally represented in this collection. Additionally, the collection contains very little correspondence or other personal information about its founder, members, directors, or actors.
The audio portions of this collection are primarily sound effects, sound cues, intermission music, and entrance and exit music, as well as dialect references and notes for the actors. There is a small amount of professionally recording productions, most notably of the performance of Brecht's A Man's a Man.
The video portions of the collection include recordings of productions, often with multiple recordings of different performances. Other video recordings include a "30th Anniversary Video Retrospective" (2001), workshops from the Baruch College and LaGuardia Community College residency programs (1996-2000), and videos created for, and shown at, presentations and tributes, such as those for long time actors Craig Smith and Harris Berlinsky.
Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the series may be directed to the Billy Rose Theatre Division (email@example.com). Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre records are arranged in four series:
This series is arranged alphabetically and contains material in regards to the administrative and governing functions of the Cocteau. The bulk of the documents represent work done by the Board of Directors. Files include minutes, budgets, funding reports, and memoranda. Topics covered are theater staff dynamics, maintaining the artistic integrity of the Cocteau, obtaining funding for the theatre and the ongoing cash flow issues, of which the Board members often had to make personal loans to allow the theater to meet its payroll obligations.
Alpert Podell, a board of director member from 1988-1997, and for many years president, maintained separate files that are a more complete representation of the Board's work for those years, and include development files, correspondence, minutes and agendas, budget and financial statements, and publicity material. Podell's correspondence includes letters documenting Eve Adamson's resignation as creative director.
Robert Hupp, artistic director from 1989-1999. maintained separate files which document his role as the creative leader of the organization as well as its practical manager. These files consist of business correspondence, memos, grant applications, job descriptions, budgets, fund-raising plans, calendars, schedules, press kits, reviews, season plans, notes regarding play selection, meeting minutes, and a feasibility study prepared for the Board of Directors. Hupp's files include materials pertaining to Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre's collaboration with Eric Bentley and to the Thetare's residency at Baruch College.
Other material in this series includes letters from audience members, files on group attendance programs, files regarding the Cocteau's history and budget, and files regarding the Bouwerie Lane Theater, often highlighting plans to move to a larger theater. Correspondence with critics includes correspondence between Craig Smith, the acting publicity director, and New York Times editor A.M Rosenthal, regarding Smith's petition to reinstate critic Mel Gussow's Off-Off Broadway column, after the Times canceled it. The file on Marie Antoinette regards a co-production with The Independent Eye, an ensemble from Philadelphia, and the file on Six Characters in Search of an Author contains plans for the Cocteau's trip to Brazil.
Files on Edvard Radzinsky and Tennessee Williams do not contain correspondence from the playwrights- the Radzinsky files include legal agreements and an unproduced, translation of Radzinsky's play Sporting Scenes (1981) and the Williams file includes clippings and publicity material.
These series is arranged by funding type, and within that, alphabetically. Though a large portion of the Cocteau's revenue came from ticket sales, the Cocteau sought additional funding through corporate donors, foundation grants, and government funding. Additionally, the Cocteau would buy blocks of tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and sell them to supporters to raise funds.
Corporate donor files (1976-1989) include correspondence and printed matter seeking to build relationship with donors and requesting funds. Government funding (1971-1989) includes grants to organizations like the Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Foundation files (1976-1990) represent a wide variety of New York City-based and national foundations.
These series is divided into production files and prompt books. Production files are arranged in chronological order by season, with the productions listed alphabetically within each season, often proceeded with a general file that contains printed material, publicity material, and/or correspondence. Productions from the 1970s to the early-1980s contain one or two files, usually consisting solely of publicity photographs. Later files are more robust, and include programs, press releases, reviews, and files on marketing. Occasionally files contain research material, such as scholarly articles regarding the play or other such relevant material. For instance, the files regarding the Cure at Troy contain a photocopy of a fax from Seamus Heaney with his notes regarding the play. For additional photographs of productions, events, and actors, see Series V. Photographs.
Prompt books are arranged alphabetically by show. The prompt books were maintained by the stage managers and contain rehearsal and performance schedules, scene breakdowns, performance reports, and annotated scripts.
Photographs are divided by prints and slides, and include publicity photographs of plays and cast members, staff portraits, photographs of productions, and snapshots of events commemorating the Cocteau's 30th anniversary. Many prints were originally framed, indicating that they were on display at the theater. Slides are arranged alphabetically by production. Often the shows are arranged by nickname of the production rather then the full name. For example, On the Razzle is under R for Razzle. The slides span productions from 1971-2004. For additional photographs of productions see Series III. Production Material.