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Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee Theatre Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR-0235
Series I: Plays, 1941 February 18-2010 December 2-19 – Series I is divided into eight subseries: Individual Plays; Press Clippings; Play Photographs; Unidentified play Photographs and Negatives; Hunter Hills; Theatre Student Association and Other Productions; Audiovisual Material; and Scrapbooks. All materials directly relate to performances produced by different University of Tennessee theatre groups.

Subseries A: Individual Plays, 1941 February 18-2010 December - Subseries A contains playbills, photographs, press clippings, financial documents and production materials. Much of the financial material pertains to production budgets and box office income. When productions include notable stars like Anthony Quayle or Zoe Caldwell, or require outside recruitment as was the case with The New Majestic Follies, then performer contracts are also included. Production materials also contain PSAs, audition notices, administrative correspondence, and staff and star biographies. Beginning in the fall of 1988 until 1993, there are interruptions in the performance chronology and most documents are limited to playbills and/or a small selection of performance photographs and negatives. Starting in 2000, the type of production materials expands to include stage management books, scripts, and, in some cases, musical scores.

Subseries B: Press Clippings and Announcements, 1953-1997 June 30 - This subseries consists entirely of press clippings. Earlier clippings focus on Carousel Theatre productions in the fifties through the seventies. The later press clippings, from the mid-seventies to the eighties, include Carousel Theatre productions but many focus on the Clarence Brown Theatre, a regional professional company developed in 1974. Also included are newspaper cuttings about special events honoring Clarence and Marian Spies Brown. Multiple clippings are photocopied on each page. While a significant portion of them refer to specific seasons, there are several instances when pages contain press clippings from multiple years and seasons. Also available are photocopies of production announcements from campus newsletters and regional cultural calendars like Panorama.

Subseries C: Play Photographs, circa 1939-1972 - Subseries C consists of photographs from titled plays; however, specific dates are unknown. Items in this subseries are listed alphabetically and it is noted when the play might relate to a documented performance.

Subseries D: Unidentified Play Photographs and Negatives, circa 1944-2004 - Subseries D is a collection of unidentified photographs. In some of the earlier photographs, actors are identified on the back and there are also instances when dates have been noted. In general, the later photographs do not contain any descriptive information. No additional production material is available to conclusively identify the performances being documented.

Subseries E: Hunter Hills, 1966-1977 - This subseries documents the Hunter Hills Theatre, a facility donated to the University of Tennessee by Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Maples in 1965. Aside from special event performances, the Hunter Hills Theatre season was limited to the summer months. This series includes seasonal brochures as well as programs from individual plays, from 1966-1977. The 1976 season is absent from the catalog of individual play materials. Financial, production, administrative, and historical development materials are not available. A History of Hunter Hills Theatre (Thesis79.B888), a thesis by UT graduate Gary Buttrey, provides a full history of the Hunter Hills Theatre project and contains several appendices that document the theatre’s financial performance and physical development. Additional Hunter Hills material is available in AR.0029: Fred Fields and Gary Buttrey Papers.

Subseries F: Theatre Students Association and Other Productions, 1978 July-1988 April 17 - Subseries F items relate to Theatre Students Association productions and other UT performances. A significant portion of the materials are from the "Summer Classics Repertory," plays produced and performed by theatre students. The "Summer Classics Repertory" files include playbills, press clippings, production materials and, in a few instances, performance photographs. All other documented student performances are limited to press clippings and the occasional production information sheet or play photograph. Also available are press clippings and programs from other UT performances staged by members of the theatre department or the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre.

Subseries G: Audiovisual Material, circa 1972-2002 October 27 - All AV materials are located in Subseries G, most of which are UT Theatres commercials and performance recordings. While there is some reel-to-reel audio, the majority of the audio material is on compact cassette. Most of the video material is on videocassette but there are a few instances where materials require hard-to-find hardware for playback such as U-matic, minidisc, or Hi-8 players.

Subseries H: Scrapbooks, 1951-1970 - Subseries H contains three scrapbooks. Each scrapbook is comprised of press clippings and playbills placed in chronological order of performance. The bulk of the materials are from the early-to-mid 1950s although there is a small section in the last scrapbook with materials from the early seventies. Some of the materials are duplicates to playbills available in Series I, Subseries A; however, there are also a number of original play programs available as well as a larger number of press clippings.

Series II: Seasonal Materials, 1948-2011 - This series is a collection of publicity and marketing materials and press clippings related to the UT Theatres’ annual seasons. The seasons are based on the academic year, starting in the fall and ending in the spring with some extensions through the summer. Some financial materials are included that address seasonal budgets as well as planning materials in relation to play selection and production matters.

Series III: Administrative, Organizational, and Historical Materials, circa 1951-2010 - Series III documents the history of the UT Theatres as well as its various administrative bodies, grant development efforts, and publications. Series III is comprised of three subseries: UT Theatres Administrative and Financial Files, Department of Speech and Theatre, and Publications.

Subseries A: UT theatres Administrative and Financial Files, circa 1951-2001 - Subseries A contains historical statements about the development of theatre at the University of Tennessee, the introduction of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company, and organizational arrangements. It also includes advisory board materials that focus on marketing, publicity, and outreach. Also recorded is UT Theatres’ association with regional art organizations. The bulk of the series, however, focuses on grant development and includes brochures, completed applications, follow-up reports, and correspondence with grant administrators.

Subseries B: Department of Speech and Theatre, 1984-2010 - Subseries B includes brochures from the Department of Speech and Theatre’s educational programs and support materials for new students and theatre staff.

Subseries C: Publications, 1977 November-2000 September - Subseries C catalogs the different newsletters produced by UT Theatres including The Marquee.

Series IV: Faculty Players, 1901-1943 - This series provides an overview of the Faculty Players club, a group that preceded the era of permanent theatre at the University of Tennessee. Although the time period covered is from 1901-1943, the bulk of the materials focus on the years between 1939 and 1941. This series is divided into four subseries; Administrative Files, Plays, Newsletters, and Other Materials. Included are administrative files, performance-related materials, and correspondence documenting performance rights requests with major play leasing companies such as the Walter H. Baker Company and Samuel French. The files also contain publicity strategies, original performance materials drafted by UT faculty, and financial files tracking box office take and account deposits.

Subseries A: Administrative Files, 1934-1944 - Subseries A includes roster lists, membership questionnaires, meeting minutes, and ticket subscription records.

Subseries B: Plays, 1901-1942 - Subseries B is comprised of play-related materials such as scripts, playbills, poster advertisements, production materials, and performance negatives.

Subseries C: Newsletters, 1939-1942 - The newsletter series includes newsletters from the Faculty Players club, the University of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Association of Non-Professional Theatres.

Subseries D: Unidentified Faculty Player’s Materials, circa 1942-1943 - Subseries D contains the materials of an unidentified faculty player. Included are notebook pages with meeting notes and a set of prompt cards for the role of Mrs. Abbey in Lawrence Langner’s Another Way Out.

Series V: Special Events and Guest Contributors, 1973 May 27-2009 September 20 - This series contains two subseries: Special Events, and Guest Contributors. Materials focus on special events, such as visiting troupes and film festivals, and invited guest directors, speakers, and instructors.

Subseries A: Special Events, 1973 May 27-2009 September 20 - Items in Subseries A include publicity and production materials related to special events such as film festivals, visiting theatre groups, and anniversary celebrations. Most of the material in this subseries is comprised of performance-related documents such as programs, flyers, and press clippings. In addition to playbills and newspaper excerpts, these files include production and financial materials that document sponsorship and funding procedures, both domestically and abroad.

Subseries B: Guest Contributors, 1982 March 29-1997 - The Guest Contributors subseries documents prominent individuals invited to direct, present, or teach at the University of Tennessee Theatres on a temporary basis. Because of the Clarence Brown Theatre’s high profile origins, a number of prominent theatre personalities also made guest appearances such as renowned stage directors Josh Logan and Maurice Daniels. These materials are limited to press clippings and obituaries.

Series VI: Clarence Brown Theatre Contributors, circa 1970-1991 This series highlights individuals who have maintained a long-term and supportive relationship with the Clarence Brown Theatre. Included are materials about the theatre’s namesake, Clarence Brown, who contributed a great deal, both financially and creatively. Also available are newspaper profiles on David Keith, a locally-based screen and stage actor who participated in a number of UT Theatres productions. The majority of the materials are comprised of press clippings that provide biographical information or document career highlights. This series contains two subseries: Clarence and Marian Spies Brown, and External Theatre Contributors.

Subseries A: Clarence and Marian Spies Brown, circa 1970-1990 - Subseries A is primarily comprised of newspaper cuttings, brochures, and photographs. In addition to general press about the Browns, also included are obituaries and documents relating to Clarence and Marian’s philanthropy to UT Theatres.

Subseries B: External Theatre Contributors, 1976-1991 - Subseries B contains press clippings about Frank Clark, Ula Love Doughty, and David Keith, all of whom contributed to the Clarence Brown Theatre – either financial or creatively.

Series VII: Unidentified Photographs, circa 1974-2004 - This is series is almost entirely made up of photographs that are not related to specific productions or theatre faculty and administrators. The majority of the photographs are of parties, performers backstage, international theatre visits (domestic and abroad), and individual artist portraits.

Series VIII: Oversized and Removed Materials, circa 1901-2010 September 19 - Most of the removed materials are oversized performance photographs or posters. Also included are CDs, map-sized stage designs, and building plans.

Dates

  • 1901-2011

General Physical Description

(70 boxes/containers)

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

50 Linear Feet

Abstract

The bulk of this collection is made up of playbills, press clippings, photographs, negatives, and production materials for performances by theatres group affiliated with or hosted by the University of Tennessee (1941-2011). Also available are organizational records that document administrative aspects of the Department of Speech and the Theatre (1952-2010), the development of the university’s professional company (1974-1976), and the Clarence Brown Theatre’s advisory board and its initiatives (1978-2000). Other items include audiovisual materials that promote or document UT Theatres’ performances, and a small selection of documentary tributes that acknowledge Clarence Brown and his contribution to the development of theatre at the University of Tennessee including his $12 million endowment donation in 1993.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Early Years – Theatre groups have been active on UT’s campus since the 1830s but these early efforts were often sporadic, amateur productions. Attempts at a permanent theatre presence came at the turn of the 20th century with the establishment of the all-male Kit Kat Klub in 1898 and the all-female Rouge and Powder group in 1900. Both groups would eventually disband.

Although theatrical groups would continue to form and dissolve for the next two decades, what would last was the English department’s determination to maintain theatre on campus. This interest was sparked in 1925 and the focus was more on teaching drama than producing plays solely for entertainment. While these early efforts were ephemeral as well, they initiated sustained interest in theatre instruction. Permanence would come in 1935 with the Actor’s Workshop that would be renamed the UT Playhouse in 1936. More important than the name change was the group’s association with Paul Soper, a professor in UT’s English Department. Dr. Soper would become a key figure in the development of theatre at the University of Tennessee when he was named director of the UT Playhouse in 1939.

Also of importance were the Faculty Players, a group active on campus from 1933 until 1943. Comprised of faculty members and spouses, the club approached theatre with an unprecedented level of seriousness, recruiting professional theatre performers and instructors to produce the plays. In addition, the group regularly performed major productions, such as Twelfth Night and Dinner at Eight, whereas earlier groups had often stayed with lighter fare. The advent of World War II and the subsequent departure of performers for military service ended the Faculty Players. However, like the UT Playhouse, the group left a legacy of a serious approach to the theatre.

The pursuit of dramatic study and support for professional theatre were two principles that would underscore the development of theatre instruction and performance at the University of Tennessee.

It is important to note that, at this time, the university did not have a permanent facility for presenting productions. Performances were often staged at the Tyson Junior High School auditorium and the Bijou Theatre. This need for a theatre building would prove to be another ongoing theme.

‘Round and ‘Round: The Carousel Years – The UT Playhouse would set the stage for a growth spurt in theatre at the university, thanks in large part to the local community’s financial and creative support. Paul Soper built upon this relationship by negotiating a summer production collaboration in 1951. Performances were staged in a tent and, based on the series’ financial success, plans for a permanent structure soon followed, monies coming in from both the regional population and university administration. Building for the Carousel Theatre began in 1952 and construction was completed in 1953. Located on the University of Tennessee’s campus, the facility is theatre-in-the round or arena-styled with a seating capacity of 400. The theatre would subsequently be renamed the Ula Love Doughty Theatre in 1993 in appreciation of Ms. Doughty’s financial contribution to support the Carousel Theatre’s maintenance.

Having a permanent venue increased the number of productions presented annually. The Carousel was a creative partnership as well with a number of community players participating in the productions. There were instances when other productions, specifically those by the UT Playhouse, were staged at outside facilities; however, by 1958 all plays produced by the University of Tennessee were performed at the Carousel Theatre.

Clarence Brown Theatre – Theatre education grew so rapidly at UT that a separate department of Speech and Theatre was created in 1968. In addition, there was a need for a more professional space, namely a proscenium theatre. However, the onus of financial responsibility sat squarely with the university – unlike the Carousel Theatre which was partly funded by the community and which generated much of its revenue based on community attendance. Development funds came, in part, from student fees and administrative support.

A capital campaign was started to generate outside donations and, in 1967, Clarence Brown contributed $50,000 to the project. In response to Brown's generous gift and in the hopes of establishing a long-term financial and creative relationship, university administration named the new building after their benefactor. This goodwill was rewarded when Brown took an active role in designing the state-of-the-art theatre and even more so when his estate bequeathed a $12 million endowment in 1993.

The director of such Hollywood classics as The Yearling and National Velvet, Clarence Brown was a University of Tennessee alumnus and graduate of the class of 1920. Clarence Brown maintained a long-term relationship with his alma mater but his most significant contributions were to the development of theatre at the university.

The new Clarence Brown Theatre would be put to good use with the arrival of Ralph G. Allen. Allen became the head of the theatre department when Dr. Soper retired in 1972. One of Allen’s legacies was the foundation of the Clarence Brown Theatre professional company in 1974. Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, it was a large-scale endeavor that attracted a number of theatre luminaries including Anthony Quayle, an integral part of the troupe’s development. During Allen’s tenure, the theatre would prove to be a critical success albeit not a financial one. In addition, this period’s emphasis on the Clarence Brown professional company reduced the number of opportunities for students to actively participate in professional theatre.

When Thomas Cooke assumed the roles of department head and theatre director in 1987, he took UT Theatres in a more international direction. Under his leadership, several exchange programs were developed as well as the Center for International Theatre Research. In 1999, the university hosted the Actor Training: International Perspectives workshop. Dr. Cooke also enhanced the focus on student development through the MFA program. Blake Robinson succeeded Thomas Cooke in 2000 and Calvin MacLean took over the position in 2006.

Hunter Hills – The Hunter Hills Theatre was started by Mr. R.L. Maples, a Gatlinburg resident who wanted to provide a cultural resource for regional residents and seasonal tourists. The University of Tennessee’s affiliation with the project came about when Mr. and Mrs. Maples donated the theatre to the university in 1965. Fred Fields became the managing director in 1966 and he chose to produce summer plays that were not only entertaining, but also provided students with an opportunity to participate in professional theatre. The first performance was Annie, Get Your Gun in 1966. The project ran for 11 years, ending in 1977 when it was closed by college administration due to financial constraints.

Linda G. Lyle’s thesis A Brief History of Theatre at the University of Tennessee provides a more in-depth historical overview of the development of performance and instructional theatre at UT. Related collections include AR.0452: The Paul L. Soper Papers and AR.0029: The Fred Fields and Gary Buttrey Papers.

Arrangement

This collection is comprised of 61 boxes and is broken up into the following eight series:

Arrangement

  1. Series I:Plays, 1941 February 18-2010 December 2-19
    • Subseries A: Individual Plays, 1941 February 18-2010 December 19
    • Subseries B: Press Clippings and Announcements, 1953-1997 June 30
    • Subseries C: Play Photographs, circa 1939-1972
    • Subseries D: Unidentified Play Photographs and Negatives, circa 1944-2004
    • Subseries E: Hunter Hills, 1966-1977
    • Subseries F: Theatre Student Association and Other Productions, 1978 July-1988 April 17
    • Subseries G: Audiovisual Materials, circa 1972-2002 October 27
    • Subseries H: Scrapbooks, 1951-1970
  2. Series II: Seasonal Materials, 1948-2011
  3. Series III: Administrative, Organizational, and Historical Materials, circa 1951-2010
    • Subseries A: UT Theatres Administrative and Financial Files, circa 1951-2001
    • Subseries B: Department of Speech and Theatre, 1984-2010
    • Subseries C: Publications, 1977 November-2000 September
  4. Series IV: Faculty Players, 1901-1943
    • Subseries A: Administrative Files, 1934-1943
    • Subseries B: Plays, 1901-1942
    • Subseries C: Newsletters, 1939-1942
    • Subseries D: Unidentified Faculty Player’s Materials, circa 1942-1943
  5. Series V: Special Events and Guest Contributors, 1973 May 27-2009 September 20
    • Subseries A: Special Events, 1973 May 27-2009 September 20
    • Subseries B: Guest Contributors, 1982 March 29-1997
  6. Series VI: Clarence Brown Theatre Contributors, circa 1970-1991
    • Subseries A: Clarence and Marian Spies Brown, circa 1970-1990
    • Subseries B: External Theatre Contributors, 1976-1991
  7. Series VII: Unidentified Photographs, circa 1974-2004
  8. Series VIII: Oversized and Removed Materials, circa 1901-2010 September 19

General Physical Description

(70 boxes/containers)

Processing Information

This collection is a combination of the following archives collections: AR.0049 (Faculty Players Records, 1938-1943); AR.0058 (Photographs and Other Materials Regarding University of Tennessee Theatre, 1944-1971); AR.0143 (Clarence Brown Theatre Playbills, 1992-2002); AR.0182 (Clarence Brown Programs and Memorial, 1987-2008 [Bulk 2006-2008]); AR.0235 (Clarence Brown Theatre, 1972-2002); AR.0279 (University of Tennessee Theatre Collection, 1941-1993); AR.0481 (Clarence Brown Obituary Collection, 1971-1994); AR.0533 (Clarence Brown Theatre 30th Anniversary Gala Records, 2004-2005); AR.0582 (Clarence Brown Theatre Schedule, 2008-2009). Please make note for any previous citations.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480