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Guide to the Stefan Brecht Papers
1960-2000 (Bulk 1960-1980)
 MSS.355

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2596
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Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Anna Gurton-Wachter, 2013 and Laurainne Ojo- Ohikuare, 2015.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 19, 2017
Description is in English.

Scope and Content

The Stefan Brecht Papers documents Brecht's critical analysis of and participation in a wide range of experimental theater and performance productions. The collection consists of research material compiled and created by Brecht for his proposed nine book series: "The Original Theatre of the City of New York, From the Mid-Sixties to the Mid-Seventies." Three books of the nine were published: "Queer Theatre"; "The Theatre of Visions: Robert Wilson"; and the two-volume "Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theatre." Although there is significant crossover between unpublished and published subjects, the collection is stronger in unpublished material. As Rena Gill describes in her memoriam article "Stefan Brecht 1924-2009," the following subjects were additionally planned for inclusion as elements of the overarching book project: Richard Foreman’s Diary Theatre: Theatre as Personal Phenomenology of Mind; Theatre as Psychotherapy for Performers: Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre and The Beck’s Living Theatre; Richard Schechner’s Performance Group with Andre Gregory’s Manhattan Repertory Company and With Notes on Grotowski and Andre Serban; The 1970's Hermetic Theatre of the Performing Director: Jared Bark, Stuart Sherman, John Zorn, Melvin Andringa with appendices on Ann Wilson, Robert Whitman and Wilford Leach; Theatre as Collective Improvisation: The Mabou Mines; Black Theatre and Music with notes on the Duo Theatre and Melvin van Peebles; and Dance: Merce Cunningham, Yvonne Rainer, Meredith Monk, Douglans Dunn with a note on Ping Chong.

The collection comprises playbills, plays, original artworks, posters, invitations, notes, ephemera, photographs, media, newspaper clippings, correspondence, articles, books, interviews and other book research material. Brecht was fastidious in his collecting and descriptive practices, as evidenced by his detailed notes, correspondence requesting diverse research material and original plays, and clippings from multiple sources across a variety of subjects. Frequently Brecht's notes and sketches can be found in the margins of flyers, clippings, and invitations. Each newspaper clipping has been photocopied for preservation purposes. All title headings have been retained from the original folders. The bulk of material is from 1965-1985 and was compiled in New York City.

The Papers are comprised of eight series:

Series I: Performance Overview Subject Files A-Z

This series is comprised of research files Brecht compiled in the course of his research for his nine book series "The Original Theatre of the City of New York, From the Mid-Sixties to the Mid-Seventies." Subject files are organized alphabetically by last name of subject. This series contains considerable overlap with the rest of the collection and may have been a place where Brecht kept more general, or overarching files. Each subject file contains a combination of newspaper clippings, notes, and ephemera. Subject files contain both handwritten notes and annotated typescripts. There is a wide range of depth with which each subject is covered. Folders labeled 'preface' or 'overview' do not necessarily contain Brecht's writing, but rather research material Brecht may have been considering using in his prefaces or overviews, alongside fragments of writing or preliminary drafts. Material ranges from 1960-2000, with a majority from 1975-1985.

Series II: Stuart Sherman

This series includes files that Brecht compiled while he was researching his book on artist Stuart Sherman. The files contain original artworks, including drawings and poetry pieces, which are often accompanied by correspondence. Correspondence includes both personal greetings and contributions towards Brecht's research. The series contains photographs documenting Sherman's "Spectacles," copies of Stuart Sherman's The Quotidian Review, and newspaper clippings. There are two sets of interview transcripts, one conducted by Stefan Brecht and another by John Matturri. Included are Stefan Brecht's notes documenting Stuart Sherman events and personal interactions. Material ranges from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Most material was produced in New York City, with a small amount from Stuart Sherman's time living in Germany. Interview transcripts can be found of correlating audio material.

Series III: Mabou Mines

This series comprises files that Brecht compiled while he was working on his unfinished book on the avant-garde theater company Mabou Mines. Files consist of notes, newspaper clippings, original scripts, correspondence, and ephemera including posters, tickets, and invitations organized by specific production. Correspondence includes both personal greetings, solicitations for support, and contributions towards Brecht's research. The series starts with selections from the Performing Arts Services Files, each containing photographs with a one page description. Material ranges from early 1970s to early 2000s.

Series IV: Performance Group "Wooster Group"

This series comprises files compiled by Brecht in the course of his research for his unfinished book on the Performance Group, Wooster Group. The research documents the Performance Group under the direction of Richard Schechner as well as its evolution into The Wooster Group with the works of Spalding Grey, Elizabeth LaCompte, and others. The series includes interviews with Richard Schechner and Joan MacIntosh. Research files on the Living Theater and Open Theater are included in this series; Brecht may have been making an intended connection between them. The series contains notes, newspaper clippings, original scripts, correspondence, and ephemera including posters, tickets, and invitations organized by production. Material ranges from 1960s to 2000s. Interview transcripts can be found of correlating audio material.

Series V: Dance, Black Theater, Black Music

This series includes files compiled by Brecht during research for his unfinished books on dance, black theater and black music. Although Brecht may have envisioned this as two separate books within the larger opus, the material is slightly interwoven. The series consists of notes, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and ephemera including posters, tickets, and invitations. Material ranges from 1960-1979 with a significant portion of undated material.

Series VI: Sound recordings

This series contains audiocassettes, audio reels, and a 12" vinyl sound disc. All audio material contains corresponding transcripts that can be found by searching for transcripts specifically or by their similar titles.

Series VII: Video recordings

This series contains six videotapes. All titles should reflect where the videos were removed from, except for "Olga's House of Shame," which was separated from Series IV: Performance Group "Wooster Group"

Series VIII: Films

This series contains four films, all originally housed in Series II: Stuart Sherman.

Oversize Series I-V

Oversize materials largely consist of posters and event programs. Unless otherwise noted, all titles reflect where in the collection material was separated from.

Arrangement

The Stefan Brecht Papers are arranged into eight series, with additional oversize series for series I-V listed at the end of the finding aid. The series reflect the original order of the material upon arrival, and all of Brecht's original file labelling has been retained. Series I is arranged alphabetically by subject's last name while all other series are by production name.

The Series are as follows:
Series I: Performance Overview Subject Files A-Z
Series II: Stuart Sherman
Series III: Mabou Mines
Series IV: Performance Group "Wooster Group"
Series V: Dance, Black Theatre, Black Music
Series VI: Sound recordings
Series VII: Video recordings
Series VIII: Films