Scope and arrangement
The Circle in the Square papers document the forty-five year history of the Circle in the Square theater company, and also contain the papers of Circle’s long-time Managing Director and Producing Director, Paul Libin, and its founder and Artistic Director, Theodore Mann. The collection consists of material relating to Circle in the Square's produced works, development material for unproduced works and abandoned projects, correspondence, administrative documents, financial and legal records, personal and office papers belonging to Libin and Mann, photographs, and other material relating to the day-to-day operation of a not-for-profit theatrical company. The Circle in the Square Theater School has a nominal presence in the collection, but this should not be considered an exhaustive source of information on the history or activities of the school.
The collection is rich in material relating to Circle’s produced works, and productions are represented by a variety of material including correspondence, advertising, financial and legal documentation such as box office reports and contracts; press and marketing material; and stage managers’ prompt books and scripts. Productions from the 1970s and 1980s are more thoroughly documented than Circle’s early shows or its final seasons in 1996. In some cases, particularly the early works, a very limited amount of material is available; the 1951 production of John Steinbeck’s Burning Bright, for example, is represented by a single promotional postcard. The revivals of Eugene O’Neill’s works, for which Circle in the Square is particularly well known, are well represented, from the 1956 revival of The Iceman Cometh starring Jason Robards, Jr., to the 1996 revival of Hughie starring Al Pacino.
Abandoned projects—shows which entered development but which were not ultimately produced—are represented by correspondence, casting files, and scripts. Circle in the Square also rented its venues for a variety of special events, such as political rallies and fundraisers, including a 1964 rally for Robert F. Kennedy; fashion shows; conferences; and play readings. Files documenting these productions have been maintained.
Correspondence comprises a significant portion of the collection. As Circle in the Square often fostered relationships with the playwrights whose work they produced, letters from the playwrights can often be found with the productions, such as those from Israel Horovitz relating to Morning; from Tina Howe regarding Coastal Disturbances; from Bernard Sabath relating to The Boys in Autumn; from Herman Wouk discussing The Caine Mutiny Court Martial; and with Thornton Wilder (and his sister, Isabel) relating to The White Devil and Three For Bleecker Street, a trilogy of plays written specifically for Circle’s Bleecker Street theater. These relationships were sometimes contentious, as evidenced by exchanges between from Theodore Mann and Henry Livings (Eh?).
In addition to correspondence, the life cycle of Circle’s theatrical works is illustrated through a range of material: The typical costs associated with putting up an Off-Broadway production in the early 1950’s are detailed in a proposed production budget for Dark of the Moon(1951); an annotated prompt book from The White Devil belonging to Jules Fisher gives insight into the production from the perspective of an award-winning lighting designer. The creative and logistical tribulations of translating a production developed for Circle’s theater-in-the-round into a touring production are documented in the production files for Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. Box office records quantify the financial success of many productions from opening night to the final performance. Actors Equity contracts define the evolving terms of employment for actors working in Broadway and Off-Broadway theater. Scores for the few musicals Circle produced are available, as are technical drawings such as blueprints, design plans, posters, and lighting plots.
Nearly all of Circle’s shows are visually preserved through extensive production photography that, in many cases, includes not only production stills, but rehearsal and opening night photographs. The independent works of Paul Libin—and to a lesser extent, Theodore Mann—are also represented in the Photographs series. Photographs of Circle’s founding staff (including Emily Stevens, Leigh Connell, and José Quintero); of early productions by the Loft Players in Woodstock, New York; and of Circle’s performance spaces at 5 Sheridan Square, 159 Bleecker Street, and Circle in the Square Uptown, have also been preserved.
Financial and legal material is abundant, particularly for the 1970s through early 1990s, and consists primarily of reports and ledgers. A quantity of payroll-related material is extant, although some items are restricted due to the prevalence of Social Security numbers throughout. The files of Circle’s Development office demonstrate their tireless efforts of a not-for-profit theater to gain financial backing not only from private donors, but through corporate sponsorship and the support of charitable organizations, while subscription materials document the marketing campaigns geared toward maintaining and growing their audience base.
The papers of Paul Libin, who acted as Circle’s Managing Director and Producing Director for nearly thirty years, are solidly represented here, and give insight into Circle’s day-to-day operations. Libin’s papers illustrate the depth and breadth of his administrative responsibility, but he was readily consulted on creative matters as well, as is illustrated by correspondence with a wide range of theatrical professionals including Kitty Carlisle Hart, Edward Kook, Warner Leroy, and Floria Lasky. Material relating to his children’s theater company, the Peppermint Players, and to his work for and with the Martinique Theater, document his theatrical career prior to and outside of Circle in the Square. His work as a producer and general manager is documented in the Produced Works sub-series, and include material relating to the original production of Hair and Warner Leroy's Between Two Thieves. Some personal papers and vital records are also present in the collection.
The papers of Circle in the Square's founder and artistic director Theodore Mann contain a significant amount of personal and professional correspondence, as well as personal papers, office papers, and material relating to works Mann produced and directed independently of Circle in the Square. His work with Moscow’s Maly Theater in the late 1980s is also documented. These papers give insight into the day-to-day operations of Circle in the Square at both the executive and creative levels, as well as illuminating the body of work Mann produced outside the auspices of Circle. Correspondence illustrates Mann's personal and business relationships with many luminaries of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater, including Elia Kazan, Ring Lardner, Irene Papas, and Thornton Wilder. The 1960s and 1970s are particularly well represented. His correspondence also includes communications with various non-profit and educational organizations, many of which sought him as a supporter or speaker. Mann's--and by extension Circle's-- relationship to the works of Eugene O'Neill is illustrated through correspondence with the Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, the O'Neill estate, Tao House, and with individuals developing books, television, and film projects about the playwright and his works.
Libin and Mann’s professional acumen is further highlighted by files documenting their work as the American agents for J. C. Williamson Theaters, an Australian producing entity. Libin and Mann were responsible for scouting American theatrical properties for production in Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s-1970s, most notably Gypsy and No, No Nanette.
Other administrators, including George Elmer (Libin’s successor as Managing Director) and literary advisor Seth Goldman, are represented in the collection to a lesser extent. Material belonging or relating to other founding members, such as José Quintero, Emily Stevens, and Leigh Connell, is only superficially present, and this collection should not be considered a comprehensive resource on their careers or their work with Circle in the Square.
The Circle in the Square papers are arranged in twelve series:
- 1924 - 2001
This series contains material relating to works produced by Circle in the Square and its founding members from 1950 to 1996, and includes staged readings, special events such as benefits and anniversary galas, and full-fledged productions. This series also includes works staged by other producers or theatrical entities at 159 Bleecker Street or 1633 Broadway but not produced by Circle in the Square. Circle in the Square Productions are represented by a wide variety of material, including correspondence, casting files, legal contracts, production budgets and other fiscal documentation, press and marketing material, stage managers’ prompt books, and scripts.
Also included here are abandoned projects: productions which reached the development stage but were derailed by scheduling conflicts, financial concerns, contractual issues, or other logistical problems.
The Other Works sub-series contains material related to productions which appeared at Circle in the Square’s theaters, but were not produced by Circle in the Square or its founding members.
The Submitted Scripts sub-series contains published and unpublished scripts received by Circle's administration for consideration. Some of these scripts were used in readings, but none were selected for production by Circle in the Square.
- 1940 - 2004
The Administrative series contains material relating to the administrative operations of Circle in the Square and its theaters at 159 Bleecker Street and, later, 1633 Broadway. Included in this material are office files of key staff members; correspondence with members of Circle’s Board of Directors; clipping files documenting Circle and its administrators (but not including clippings pertaining to specific productions); material related to marketing campaigns and subscriptions; and materials received from the theatrical guilds and trade organizations with which Circle had relations.
- 1949 - 1992
This series contains the papers of Paul Libin, who joined Theodore Mann at the helm of Circle in the Square in 1963, and remained with the organization until 1996. The series is comprised primarily of personal and professional correspondence, as well as personal and office files; material relating to works Libin produced and or was otherwise involved with independent of Circle in the Square; material pertaining to his operation of the Martinique Theater, and relating to the Peppermint Players, a children's theater group Libin created in the early 1960s.
Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature, and includes letters to and from many significant individuals within the theater community ranging from producers and directors to playwrights, actors, and theater critics.
Personal papers relate mainly to the management of Libin's household operations, but also include material related to his studies at the University of Illinois and Columbia University, and later, related to courses in the business of theater that Libin returned to Columbia to teach. Some vital records, including material related to his service in the United States Army are also included.
Libin's work independent of Circle in the Square as a producer and general manager are documented in the Produced Works sub-series, and include the original production of Hair, as well as Warner Leroy's Between Two Thieves.
The works of the Peppermint Players, a children's theater troupe established by Libin and Carole Schwartz Hyatt, are thoroughly documented through production and office files.
The Office Files sub-series is comprised of material generated by Libin’s office as part of the day-to-day operation of Circle in the Square, as well as material generated in the course of his other professional activities.
- 1906 - 2004; undated [bulk 1953 - 1999]
This series contains the papers of Circle in the Square founder and artistic director, Theodore Mann. In addition to a significant amount of personal and professional correspondence, the series includes personal papers, office papers, material relating to works Mann produced and directed independently of Circle in the Square, and files pertaining to his work with the Maly Theater in Moscow. These papers give insight into the day-to-day operations of Circle in the Square at both the executive and creative levels, as well as illuminating the substantial body of work Mann produced outside the auspices of Circle.
Correspondence illustrates Mann's personal and business relationships with many luminaries of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater, from actors, directors, and playwrights to literary, press and talent agents. The 1960s and 1970s are particularly well represented. This subseries also includes correspondence with various non-profit and educational organizations, many of which sought Mann as a supporter or speaker. Mann's--and by extension Circle's-- relationship to the works of Eugene O'Neill is illustrated through correspondence with the Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, the O'Neill estate, Tao House, and with individuals developing books, television, and film projects about the playwright and his works.
Ted Mann’s personal papers consist largely of files dealing with household management, but also include awards, autobiographical material, and a segment of a personal journal. Mann’s wife, Patricia Brooks Mann, was an opera singer, and this subseries contains a small portion of material related to her career as a performer.
Production files relating to plays and operas independently produced and directed by Mann can be found in this series; as with the material covering produced works in other series, some productions are more thoroughly documented than others.
The Office Files sub-series is comprised of material generated in Mann’s office as part of the day-to-day operation of Circle in the Square, as well as material generated in the course of his other professional activities.
The Maly Theater files pertain to Mann's trip to the Soviet Union and his work with Vitaly Solomon and The State Academic Maly Theater of Russia, where he directed Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana in 1989.
- 1950 - 1998
The Financial and Legal series is comprised of material relating to the financial and legal operations of Circle in the Square. Material collected includes annual, monthly and daily reports; account statements; administrative files belonging to the development department; files relating to gifts and bequests; payroll; subscriptions; and box office reports dealing with subscriptions or multiple productions.
It should be noted that the majority of records in this series relate to Circle as an institution and document statistics by year or season. Financial and legal papers relating to specific productions will be found within the Produced Works series.
- 1971 - 1998
Circle in the Square Theatre School opened in 1961 as training conservatory for actors. Material collected in this sub-series includes an application for the school ca. 1975; production files from school productions and workshops; correspondence; and other administrative files, largely relating to financial matters. Only a small quantity of material is available, and this should not be considered an exhaustive archive for the school.
- 1954 - 1980
In addition to their responsibilities with Circle in the Square, Paul Libin and Theodore Mann were hired by J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd., to serve as their U.S. representatives for the purposes of selecting American shows for performance, securing performing rights, and arranging for the production to be presented in Australia and New Zealand. Familiarly known as 'the Firm,' J.C. Williamson Ltd. was one of Australia's foremost theatrical production companies in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Material in this series includes correspondence to and from members of 'the Firm' and relating to the selection and presentation of plays and musicals; production files for shows produced by J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd.; files relating to abandoned project; reviews of and reports on theatrical properties under consideration; office files; and a quantity of programs, fliers, and press kit material collected by Libin, Mann, and J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd.
- 1930 - 2003
This series contains photographs documenting the produced works of Circle in the Square and related entities; its theaters; and individuals of significance to the organization. It is divided into four sub-series: Circle in the Square productions, other productions, individuals, and general photographs.
See also, oversized material
- 1968 - 1992
Includes both full scores and parts largely from Anna Karenina and Pal Joey, but also includes sections of scores from John and Abigail, Trumpets of the Lord, and Zoya’s Apartment. Parts represent categories of the orchestra, such as bass, percussion, reed, Cello, Trumpet and Trombone. Full scores represent all parts together. Pal Joey scores include “Piano-Conductor” scores, full scores of a smaller physical size that were presumably used by the pianist. Full scores are organized in production order, and parts in production order within each part, with the exception of the “Grouped Parts,” which are organized only in production order. Series includes both original scores and reproductions, with hand-written notes.
See also, oversized material
- 1969 - 1996
This series contains rolled material, predominantly blueprints, design plans, posters, and lighting plots. Material relating to design, construction and implementation of the technical aspects of Circle in the Square’s produced work, including ground plans, floor plans, lighting plots, costume and set designs. Also included is similar material relating to a small quantity of shows not produced by Circle in the Square.
See also, oversized material
- 1972 - 1998
Promotional posters and advertisements for Circle in the Square productions and events.
See also, oversized material
This series contains oversized material contained in the collection and is divided into seven sub-series: Financial and legal material, photographs, scores, technical drawings and lighting plots, posters and windowcards, and awards. Items of note include costume designs for Aria da Capo and The Love of Don Perlimplin, a double bill of shows produced by Mann and Quintero in 1950 with the Loft Players, and proclamations from the Mayor of the City of New York recognizing important milestones in Circle's history.