Scope and arrangement
The Actor's Workshop records contain financial records; photographs, production records (such as prompt books and lighting cues), and set and costume designs that document the group's performances; and scripts, correspondence, and play critiques relating to the company's play selection process. These records span from the formation of the Actor's Workshop in 1952 to the departure of directors Jules Irving and Herbert Blau and business manager Alan Mandell in 1965.
The Actor's Workshop records are arranged in five series:
- 1953-19632.5 boxes
The Financial Records series consists of various Actor's Workshop accounts for the time periods 1953 to 1955 and 1960 to 1963. These reveal details concerning the company's operational expenses, bank transactions, and box office receipts.
- 1952-19654.5 boxes
The Photographs series contains images from Actor's Workshop performances, as well as publicity portraits of company actors in costume. This series is organized chronologically by season and within alphabetically by play title. Photograph formats include glossy 8" by 10" images and contact sheets (often labeled "proofs" or "galleys"). While the bulk of these items are black and white, the 1957-1958 production Tiger at the Gates includes some color photographs. Occasionally play fliers, posters, programs, and letters with photographers are filed along with the photographs.
- 1957-19655.5 boxes
The Production Records series is comprised of promptbooks, annotated scripts, and lighting and sound cues and diagrams. These files sometimes contain cast lists, rehearsal schedules, wardrobe and prop checklists, design illustrations, set-change diagrams, and various other production notes. The files for The Birds include the musical's piano/vocal score.
- 1960-19655.5 boxes
The Scripts and Critiques series contains material related to the Actor's Workshop's process for reviewing scripts for performance consideration. These documents include correspondence with playwrights, critiques written by Actor's Workshop reviewers, and scripts. Also present are some carbon copy replies from Irving, Blau, and Actor's Workshop secretary Cheri Landry.
Submissions came from professional and amateur playwrights from across the country. The critiques contain a brief plot synopsis and an evaluation of the play, and note the play's title and author, name of the critic, and dates that the script was submitted and returned. The process of reading and returning rejected manuscripts often took more than a year. Many of the scripts present in the collection were returned to the company from the post office and marked as undeliverable.
Beginning in 1963, the Actor's Workshop coordinated with the Theatre Communications Group, who paid Actor's Workshop members to critique amateur plays through their Script Reading Program.
- 1953-19652 boxes
This series contains costume and set designs, primarily original drawings on paper along with some some reprographic prints. Occasionally the drawings have attached textile swatches.