Scope and arrangement
The Lanie Robertson papers, dating from 1953 to 2002, survey Robertson’s playwriting career through scripts, correspondence, writings, and biographical, production, and publicity files. The majority of the collection pertains to Robertson's professional and academic achievements, though some personal correspondence is present.
This collection holds 53 scripts written by Robertson. Scripts are generally clean, complete typescripts of plays. Some titles are represented through multiple script versions, sometimes written or edited several years apart. Robertson's revisiting of certain older titles is documented through his annotations on the scripts. While some of his early works from the 1950s are present, most of the scripts were written in the 1980s and 1990s. Among the titles are The Tiger of Payare (1957), Stringbean (1989), Nazi Women (1992), A Penny for the Guy (1992), Nobody Lonesome for Me (1995), and Cannibal’s Waltz (1997). Titles for television include episodes of the series Monsters, and a script for "Red-Hot Rhythm and Blues," a special about Diana Ross.
Production files are arranged into two sets based on the creator of the files (either Robertson or his literary agent, Helen Merrill). Files compiled by Helen Merrill during her time as literary agent for Robertson hold correspondence, dramatic production contracts, royalty statements, invoices, theater programs, and newspaper clippings. These files document communication between theaters, producers, playwrights, and literary agents during preliminary stages of theater production. Correspondence pertains to rights ownership; projected costs of productions and orchestrations; option offers to produce Robertson’s plays; and the sending and receiving of scripts for potential production or inclusion in festivals. Primary correspondents are Helen Merrill, regional theater producers and directors, and other literary agents. Plays represented through Merrill's files include Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (1983), A Penny for the Guy (1992), and Alfred Stieglitz Loves O’Keefe (1988).
Lanie Robertson's production files contain material he gathered during the course of the productions of his plays. The files hold agreements, reviews, programs, script excerpts, rehearsal schedules, contact sheets, and correspondence. Multiple productions of a single title may be represented within a given file. For example, the production file for Nasty Little Secrets holds material relating to both the 1998 Off-Broadway production and the 2000 production in Hollywood. Of note are files containing correspondence, programs, reviews, rehearsal schedules, and photographs relating to the Japanese production of Robertson’s Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (1994, Tokyo). Pre-production arrangements, such as casting and royalties arrangements, and box office reports from the Theater Tops in Tokyo, are documented.
Publicity files consist of theater programs, posters, reviews, and announcements for regional and Off-Broadway theater productions. Among the several productions represented are Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (1983), A Penny for the Guy (1992), and Bringing Mother Down (1997).
Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature. Personal correspondence is almost exclusively from Robertson’s parents dating from 1970 to 1975. The letters discuss general family events and document the support Robertson received from his family. Some letters and postcards from his friend, actor Craig Fols, are also present. Subjects of professional correspondence include contracts and agreements for plays written by Robertson, and sending and receiving scripts for general review and proposed productions. Many letters serve as agreements between Robertson and theaters for the production of his work.
Biographical material in this collection documents Robertson's personal interests and professional development and achievements. Material primarily consists of several versions of Robertson's curriculum vitae, biographical essays, and head-shots. A limited amount of teaching-related material, such as correspondence and contracts, is present. An incomplete scrapbook documents some of his early achievements and interests in theater, from the early 1950s to the 1970s, through newspaper clippings and programs. Material relating to his family is comprised of family photographs, Robertson's high school yearbook, and photographs and an essay for his father's obituary.
Writings in this collection document Robertson's academic and creative interests, such as literature and history, through notebooks, poetry, synopses, and notes and essays from Robertson’s graduate school studies. The notebooks contain notes written during the 1970s when Robertson was in graduate school, and notes on his play Nobody Lonesome for Me (1995). A copy of his master’s thesis is present, as well as files containing college exam essays and research material and notes on occult literature. Partial scripts and synopses for his plays can also be found here. The majority of the poetry was written by Robertson in 1968 while he was studying in London. The poetry reflects Robertson’s interest in historical figures, such as Thomas More and Ben Jonson.
This collection holds audio-visual material relating to productions of plays written by Robertson. Inquiries regarding audio-visual material in the collection may be directed to the Billy Rose Theatre Division (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio-visual material will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The collection is arranged into 6 categories: scripts, production files, publicity files, correspondence, biographical material, and writings. Production files are subdivided into Helen Merrill files and Lanie Robertson files. Scripts and production files are arranged alphabetically by title of production or concept; all other groups are arranged chronologically.