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Winthrop Ames papers, 1908-1931
Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937.
- 1 linear foot (1 box and 1 vol.)
Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Most of the collection reflects the workings of the New Theatre. Includes correspondence, legal papers and printed material pertaining to the Theatre's founding, budgets and reports on the Theatre, and production files such as correspondence and reports about play scripts submitted for possible production, stage plans, property and lighting plots, cues, stage manager's time sheets, notes on previous productions and a schedule of the road tour of the New Theatre Company. Also includes a volume bound by the Library many years ago containing rehearsal schedules, a memo by Ames for a promptbook for ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, diagrams and forms for the New Theatre, invitations to the opening night of the New Theatre, listsof opening night attendees and original box owners, a typed report of the opening night dedication, transcripts of speeches at the opening night ceremony by Senator ElihuRoot and Governor Hughes and issues of The American Architect, The Architect and The New York Architect with articles, photographs and diagrams of the New Theatre and the Little Theatre. The collection also contains a folderof correspondence and contracts, 1926-1929, of the Winthrop Ames office on production rights for plays and a bound book of caricatures by Roland Young of the 1924 production of BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK in which he starred titled "Mr. Winthrop Ames Presents", probably a gift to Ames.
Theatrical manager, producer, director and writer, Winthrop Ames was born on November 25, 1870 into a wealthyand socially prominent family in North Easton, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard and began a career in publishing because of his family's strong opposition to a career in theater. In 1904, however, he traveled to Europe to study the "new stagecraft" and on his return became joint manager of the Castle Square Theatre in Boston with Loren F. Deland. This led to his appointment in 1908 as managing director of the New Theatre, the largest playhouse in New York City at CentralPark West and 62nd St., with Lee Shubert as the business manager and John Corbin as the literary advisor. Foundedby millionaires, the New Theatre was to be a repertory theater presenting the best in classical and modern drama free of commercial pressures. Shakespeare was to be the primary offering; the theatre opened in November 1908 with a lavish production of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA starring Julia Marlowe and E. H. Sothern. However, due to its unwieldy size and financial failure, the theater was closed by its founders after a mere two seasons.
The New Theatre reopened as the Century, but Ames had moved on to open the Little Theatre on West 44th St. in March 1912. At 300 seats, it was the smallest playhouse in New York City. In 1913, he opened the Booth Theatre onWest 45th St. with the Shuberts and managed both theaters into the 1930s. Ames had many successes as a producer including Shaw's THE PHILANDERER (1913), THE BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK (1924) by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, and revivals of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at the Booth, 1926-1929. He was also the director of his plays,demanding high standards for all aspects of each production.
Respected in the theater world, Ames served on various committees. During World War I he organized the Over There Theatre League which sent actors to Europe to entertain the troops. He retired from theatrical management in 1932 because of poor health, returning to North Easton, but continued to be involved in theatrical affairs. He died of pneumonia on November 3, 1937 in Boston, Mass.
Controlled Access Terms
- New Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
- Theater -- New York (State) -- New York.