Skip to main content

SCOUT

Special Collections Online at UT

William R. Black Papers

 Collection
Identifier: AR-0810

  • Staff Only

This collection comprises much of Bill Black’s career as a costume designer, from various theaters and productions across the USA, until his retirement from UTK professorship and design work for Ut's Clarence Brown Theatre in 2020. Costume design sketches, fabric swatches, magazine clippings, correspondence, photographs, reviews, and playbills make up the bulk of the collection. Other items include performance tickets, letters, printed emails, meeting notes, thank you notes, poster-sized costume designs for local Knoxville businesses, and a set of designs associated with several Presbyterian churches in Knoxville, TN. Also included are several binders of "shopping sketches", sets of smaller-scale copies of original designs.

Designs were produced between 1976 and 2020 for theatres, theatre companies, and festivals including the Utah Shakespeare Festival (formerly the Utah Shakespearean Festival) the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, the now defunct Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and several major universities.

Dates

  • 1976 - 2020
  • Majority of material found within 1981 - 2020

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days is 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 Special Collections.

Extent

86.84 Linear Feet (54 drop front boxes , 2 oversize flat boxes, 1 quarter box)

Overview

This collection comprises much of Bill Black’s career as a costume designer, from various theaters and productions across the USA, until his retirement from UTK professorship and design work for the Clarence Brown Theatre in 2020. Costume design sketches, fabric swatches, magazine clippings, correspondence, photographs, reviews, and playbills make up the bulk of the collection. Other items include costume designs for local Knoxville businesses, and a set of designs associated with several Presbyterian churches in Knoxville, TN.

Biographical / Historical

William “Bill” Robert Black was born in Missouri on December 12, 1952, to William Leslie and Lena Ruth (Matkin) Black. He is Professor Emeritus of Costume Design and Technology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and former Associate Head of the Department of Theatre.

Black received an associate’s degree from Mineral Area College in 1972, and went on to graduate from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, majoring in Art and Speech-Theatre. Originally intending to be a high school art teacher, he was encouraged by a professor to continue his education with a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, which he completed in 1977. Soon after graduating, Black joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as the supervisor of the costume shop at the Clarence Brown Theatre, becoming a faculty member in 1984 when the degree of MFA in Theatre was created.

Bill Black retired from UT in 2020, after 43 years and over 200 productions. For over thirty seasons, he designed for the Tony award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, as well as working with other theaters and productions across the United States. He served two terms as President of the Tennessee Theatre Association and two terms as Tennessee State Representative to the board of the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Black has won several awards and accolades, including the James R. Cox Professorship in 2010, the Paul L. Soper Professorship, and the 2018 College Marshall Award, one of the highest honors for faculty at UT.

Arrangement

This collection consists of 57 boxes divided into four series:

Series I: Plays, 1976-2020

Series II: Miscellaneous Designs, 1994-2011

Series III: Production Photographs and Removed Fabric Samples, 1982-2002

Series IV: Oversize Materials

Plays are arranged by location and then by date. Materials for each play in Series I and II are housed in archival binders.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bill Black donated his collection to University Archives in June 2020.

Related Materials

Interested researchers may also wish to consult:

  • AR-0757: Robert M. Cothran’s Clarence Brown Theatre Set Design Collection
  • AR-0235: University of Tennessee Theatre Collection

Production photographs of some of Bill Black's costumes are available at https://www.billblackcostumes.com/ and the Utah Shakespeare Festival's website at https://www.bard.org/about/photos/

Repository Details

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

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