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Blog Posts by Subject: Theatre

Robin Williams on Stage

While reading about riots in my hometown last night, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a headline announcing the shocking death of Robin Williams. I really can add very little to the many expressions of grief from those whose for whom his films were foundational stories of childhood. Read More ›

Hirschfeld's Play of the Week

On exhibition on the 3rd floor currently are 3 of the lithographs—illustrating the Play of the Week productions of Henry IV, part 1, The Dybbuk, and Rashomon.Read More ›

How Much is a TONY Worth to a Broadway Show?

In the week following the announcement of the TONY awards, the winner for best musical, Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, enjoyed its best week ever, bringing in more than $100,000 than the week before. The winner for best play, All The Way, seems to have been helped even more by the award, bringing in $200,000 more than the previous week. If it ever was in doubt, a TONY award is clearly good for business. At least if you win the big one.

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Big Deal: Researching Bob Fosse at the Library

The life and career of Fosse, the only director to win the triple crown of show business awards in one year (an Oscar for Cabaret, a Tony Award for Pippin, and an Emmy Award for Liza With a Z—all in 1973) is well-documented through the holdings of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (LPA) and elsewhere. Clippings, reviews, posters and lobby cards, Playbills and programs—all the standard theatrical ephemera—on Fosse's shows and films are easily available in the Billy Rose Theatre Division and Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Read More ›

The Yiddish Broadway and Beyond

Given New York City’s major role in the Yiddish theater, it’s no surprise that The New York Public Library has a wonderful Yiddish theater collection. Here you’ll find posters, playbills, sheet music, published plays, photographs, manuscripts, memoirs, oral histories and recordings that tell the story of Yiddish theater and its legendary stars.Read More ›

The Original Circle in the Square Photographers: An Interview with Justin and Barbara Kerr

Photographs from the Circle in the Square Papers provide a one-of-a-kind record of nearly all of the hundreds of productions mounted on the Circle’s round stage during its five-decade history. Founded in 1951, the Circle in the Square became one of the key theaters in the Off-Broadway movement.Read More ›

Vandamm's Pygmalion

By the time that you read this post, the exhibition Pioneering Poet of Light: Florence Vandamm & the Vandamm Studio will have been de-installed. The photograph and key sheets will be returned to the Performing Arts Library divisions. But the blogging will continue since there are thousands of photographs representing thousands of shows, dances and people.Read More ›

Lorraine Hansberry: Dreamer Supreme

The Lorraine Hansberry Collection at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture is a remarkably thorough record of family, personal, and professional papers, letters, manuscripts and photographs documenting her entire life as an artist and activist.Read More ›

Power: The American Way

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, co-authors of some of Broadway’s most enduringly funny comedies, also collaborated on a topical pageant, The American Way, which opened at Broadway’s Center Theater, January 1939.Read More ›

Vandamm and Machinal

Machinal is back on Broadway. Sophie Treadwell’s best known play is enjoying a successful revival at the Roundabout Theater. Although a journalist, Treadwell used elements of experimental playwriting to show the central character stuck on the machinery that limited the lives of 1920s women. Her choices doom her. Go to see it if you can.Read More ›

Focus on Stage Lighting: Faust

This week’s post serves as a caption for the alternative image that the Library’s opening web page has been using when it highlights the Vandamm exhibition, Pioneering Poet of Light. Again, the web editors selected well, since the photograph of Faust illustrates the title so well.Read More ›

August Wilson's How I Learned What I Learned

Frederick August Kittle Jr. loved libraries. That's a point clearly made in How I Learned What I Learned, August Wilson's autobiographical play at the Signature Center, directed by Todd Kreidler, starring Ruben Santiago Hudson. Freddie Kittle Jr. preferred libraries to Pittsburgh schools which were not an easy way for him to learn. He also loved his mother, Daisy Wilson, and he loved people, particularly black people.

How I Learned What I Learned is a memoir 

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ON THE AIR: Music Landmarks in NYC - Yankee Doodle to Jay-Z

Pearl Street Native/Indigenous

AIR is a Native American and ancient colloquialism for music and voice, as heard upon the earth. Musicians and singers performed at festivals at sacred places like Pearl Street, where shells mounded for centuries, in Lenape tradition, to honor and "give thanks" for the sun, moon, stars, rain, wind and all elements of the air.

New Amsterdam. ca. 1625 - People arrived to the various ceremonies and festivals along the East River shoreline via rafts, canoes and by walking down the main island trail (widened for vehicles in the 

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The Line King's Vandamms

It has been a while since the last blog post. I have been busy with the installation and opening tours related to our final Fall exhibition, The Line Kings’ Library: Al Hirschfeld at The NYPL, which is on view in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery here through January 4, 2014. It, the Vandamm exhibit and Michael Peto: Stage in 

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Treasures, Oddities and Ephemera: 3-D Objects from Billy Rose Theatre Division’s Theatre Cabinets

The Theatre Cabinets (or T-Cabinets as we call them) of the Billy Rose Theatre Division are packed full of objects large and small. The cabinets are a repository for all the three-dimensional items that have accompanied our larger collections or have been given to the division separately as a gift. I absolutely love the T-cabinets. Being hidden in the back of a locked cage and full of mysterious items is only part of the allure. The other part is the extreme variety of the items themselves.

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Or She to Hecuba... Vandamm's Greek Plays

Thorndike's 1919 production of The Trojan WomenDuring the War, Florence Vandamm had not lost her skill at showing character and movement. Her career was, in many ways, redefined by the portraits commissioned by Suffragist actress Sybil Thorndike in 1919. She photographed the cast of the 1919-1920 Holborn Empire (Theater) season of classical Greek and modern plays presented by Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson.

The images were used for press reproduction and in the season program. Thorndike chose to present the Gilbert Murray translations of The Trojan Women and 

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A Vandamm Postcard from London

Before leaving London in 1923, Florence Vandamm photographed Sybil Thorndike in at least five additional roles. Thorndike was known for her ability to play comedy and tragedy, so there was a wide range. She appeared in the suffrage play Jane Clegg for Edith Craig's Pioneer Players, 1922, reminding her audience that conditions remained despite the political victory. Thorndike also played in and presented modern comedies, such as Advertising April in 1923.

Theater promotional postcards were re-emerging after World War I restrictions on dark room materials.  

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Children's Theater in New York City

A patron wrote in to ASK NYPL, the virtual reference service of The New York Public Library, to find out about the state of children's theater in New York City. More specifically, the patron wanted to know the total number of children age 6-11 in each of the five boroughs of the City; the various theaters in the City that feature children's 

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Vandamm: A Journey's End

This post could also be called "In praise of Internet research." In terms of research, it was a triumph; in all other senses, a tragedy. Thanks to NYPL's electronic resources and Internet connection, I went from not knowing of the existence of a first husband to knowing where he was buried in 75 minutes.

Since starting to work on Florence Vandamm's professional biography, I have been spending odd bits of time searching her name on NYPL's amazing supply of electronic resources. So, one Friday afternoon, I searched the name 

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Vandamm, the Suffragist?

I admit to a historical prejudice—I really wanted Florence Vandamm to be a Suffragist. A woman running her own business in London, 1908, it just seemed natural. But the road to verification had surprising detours. The self-portrait that is the blog channel's key image gave me clues, but the Internet gave me proof and a great pay-off.

In the 1908–1915 scrapbook, there were newsprint copies of two sets of poses, of Adeline Bourne. One group were in harem-y clothes and showed her in costume for Salome (February 27–28, 1910). Others, including 

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