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Guide to the Eye and Ear Theater Archive
1965-1996 (Bulk 1980-1988)
 MSS 195

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2596
Email: fales.library@nyu.edu


Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Colin Wells and Zachary Dabbs, 2009.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on February 11, 2014

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: Eye and Ear Theater Archive
Dates [inclusive]: 1965-1996 (Bulk: 1980-1988)
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1980-1988
Abstract: The Eye and Ear Theater Archive reflects the activities of the Eye and Ear Theater Company between its founding in 1979 and 1996. The bulk of the collection dates from between 1980 and 1988. The organization sought to encourage artistic collaboration by producing plays written by poets using sets and costumes designed by visual artists, and its archive is composed largely of correspondence, clippings from newspapers and periodicals, and the company's general administrative and financial records. A slightly smaller quantity of the archive reflects the company's theater productions, including scripts, promotional materials, and photographs of the performances, art, and individuals involved.
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet (4 Boxes)
Call Phrase: MSS 195

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Historical Note

The Eye and Ear Theater Company was founded in 1979 by Ada Katz, wife of the painter Alex Katz; Roy Leaf, vice president of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; and theater director Mac McGinnes, as a non-profit theatrical production company. Inspired by the poet and artist theaters of the 1950s and early 1960s, such as John B. Myers' Artists' Theatre and the Judson Poets Theatre of Greenwich Village, the organization sought to encourage artistic collaboration through Off Broadway productions of plays written by poets with sets and costumes designed by painters and scultptors. It was run by a Board of Directors which was composed of the company's founders along with Bob Holman, Susan Davis, Beth DeWoody, George Schneeman, and later Joanne Cassulon, Mark Charles, James Kraft, Rosie Levai, Michael O'Brian, and Paul Chupf. The Board dealt with fundraising, production, administration, and publicity. It also set the company's artistic goals, and in pursuing them relied on the assistance of an Advisory Board, which included noted poets, choreographers, and artists like John Ashbery, Edwin Denby, Laura Dean, Paul Taylor, Red Grooms, and Jennifer Bartlett. The members of both bodies were volunteers who contributed resources like office space and secretarial services in addition to their time. Their work would be supported by a paid administrative staff beginning in 1985. The poets and artists were paid for their work and the sets and costumes used in the company's productions remained the property of the theatre company, which on occasion lent them to art exhibitions. Much of the organization's funding came from individuals, corporations, and foundations, as well as state and federal grants, including The National Endowment for the Arts, Lila Acheson Wallace Fund, The Samuel and May Rudin Foundation, The Kulcher Foundation, The Leonhardt Foundation, and The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts.

The Eye and Ear Theater Company strove to produce three plays per season, each developed through collaborations between poets, visual artists, and theater directors, usually with the assistance of other specialists. Among the company's productions are works from both contemporary and past poets. The organization's first production, City Junket written by Kenward Elmslie and designed by Red Grooms, opened in 1980 accompanied by a smaller staging of  Litany by John Ashbery with sets by Alex Katz. The next season saw the production of Edwin Denby's  Four Plays by Edwin Denby, a play originally written for one of Andy Warhol's uncompleted film projects, with sets designed by Elizabeth Murray and costumes by Judith Shea under the direction of Bob Holman. Also produced were  The Heroes by John Ashbery with sets by Jane Freilicher and  Shopping and Waiting by James Schuyler on a set designed by Alex Katz. In 1982 the company staged Ed Friedman's  The White Snake using sets and costumes designed by Robert Kushner followed in 1983 by  Paid on Both Sides by W.H. Auden designed by David Hockney. In 1984 Eye and Ear produced the single act drama  Desire Caught by the Tail by Pablo Picasso with sets developed by Linda Benglis. The next year the company produced a play it had commissioned from the poet Alice Notley entitled  Anne's White Glove on a set designed by Jane Dickson. In 1988 the company produced  Kaddish written by Allen Ginsberg and designed by Eric Fischl.

Sources

"Eye and Ear Theatre Artistic Statement," Undated, Eye and Ear Theater Archive, MSS 195, Box 1, Folder 2, Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

Glueck, Grace. "Art People." The New York Times, April 6, 1979, Eye and Ear Theater Archive, MSS 195, Box 1, Folder 17, Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

Klein, Alvin. "Picasso Play Gets Rare Showing." The New York Times, June 10, 1984, L18

Lawson, Carol. "Broadway." The New York Times, February 8, 1980. p. C2

Letter from Susan Davies and Ada Katz to Sandra D. Sanderson, 1985, Eye and Ear Theater Archive, MSS 195, Box 1, Folder 6, Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

"Theatre Art in Exhibition," The Southampton Press, June 7, 1984, Eye and Ear Theater Archive, MSS 195, Box 1, Folder 17, Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

Unaddressed Letter from Ada Katz, [1982], Eye and Ear Theater Archive, MSS 195, Box 1, Folder 11, Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

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Scope and Content

The Eye and Ear Theatre Archive contains records documenting the operations of the Eye and Ear Theatre Company between the years 1979 and 1996, as well as copies of news articles and promotional materials dating from as early as 1965, with most of the items dated 1980 through 1988. A substantial portion of the collection is comprised of business correspondence written and received by the company's staff, particularly Ada Katz and Susan Davies. Among the activities reflected by the letters are outreach efforts, such as attempts to recruit artists, poets, and directors for productions as well as members for the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board. The correspondence also describes the company's fundraising efforts, such as benefits and solicitations for donations from corporations and individuals, and individual productions. Further documentation of the Eye and Ear Theater Company's activities appears in administrative records, such as minutes from meetings of its Board of Directors, and financial records including budgets and applications for grants from and reports made to the National Endowment for the Arts. Also present are a few of the company's tax forms and year end statements. Another significant component of the collection is clippings taken from newspapers and periodicals regarding the company, some of the poets and artists it recruited, and reviews of Eye and Ear productions. Of particular note in this category of record are those located in Series III. These include articles discussing the idea of artistic collaboration in general and accounts of avant garde theatre productions staged by other companies presenting works by artists and authors like Kenneth Koch, Sergei Diaghilev, and Isamu Noguchi. Occasionally these clippings bear annotations or are accompanied by handwritten notes.

With regard to the productions staged by the Eye and Ear Theater Company the collection also holds scripts, programs, and advertisements along with a smaller quantity of contracts, receipts, actor or artist biographies, and notes including set design sketches, rehearsal and performance schedules. The productions are also documented in photographs depicting performances, sets, costumes, actors, artists, poets, and directors. In addition the collection holds three videotapes, one of which is a documentary of the company's 1988 production of Allan Ginsberg's Kaddish.

Arrangement

The Eye and Ear Theater Archive is arranged into four series reflecting the original order of the collection. Series I: Administrative Materials is composed of three subseries based upon the functions the records were created to serve, namely "General Administrative Materials," "Fundraising," and "Financial" documents. Within each subseries the records are grouped according to subject and the resulting files are organized alphabetically.

Series II: Production Files contains eight subseries, each devoted to a play produced by the Eye and Ear Theater Company. The subseries are ordered alphabetically by the title of the work and the materials within them are grouped by alphabetically by subject.

Series III: Playbills, Announcements, Promotional Material, and Clippings is organized according to format.

The tapes in Series IV: Video are in chronological order.

  1. Series I: Administrative Materials
  2. Series II: Production Files
  3. Series III: Playbills, Announcements, Promotional Material and Clippings
  4. Series IV: Video
  5. Oversize

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Ashbery, John, 1927-
  • Auden, W. H., (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973
  • Benglis, Lynda, 1941-
  • Davis, Susan
  • Denby, Edwin, 1903-1983
  • Dickson, Jane
  • Dickson, Jim, 1946-
  • Elmslie, Kenward
  • Fischl, Eric, 1948-
  • Freilicher, Jane, 1924-
  • Friedman, Ed, 1950-
  • Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997
  • Grooms, Red
  • Hockney, David
  • Holman, Bob, 1948-
  • Katz, Ada, 1928-
  • Katz, Alex, 1927-
  • Kushner, Robert, 1949-
  • McGinnes, Mac
  • Mead, Taylor
  • Murray, Elizabeth, 1940-2007
  • Notley, Alice, 1945-
  • Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973
  • Schuyler, James
  • Shea, Judith, 1948-

Document Type

  • Administrative records.
  • Advertisements.
  • Agreements.
  • Announcements.
  • Articles.
  • Black-and-white photographs.
  • Brochures.
  • Business records.
  • Catalogs.
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence.
  • Design drawings.
  • Direct mail.
  • Drawings.
  • Ephemera.
  • Exhibition catalogs.
  • Financial records.
  • Grant proposals.
  • Minutes.
  • Notes.
  • Photocopies.
  • Playbills.
  • Plays (document genre)
  • Poetry.
  • Postcards.
  • Posters.
  • Press kits.
  • Press releases.
  • Programs (documents)
  • Reviews (document genre)
  • Scarves (costume accessories)
  • Scripts (documents)
  • Tax records.
  • Theater programs.
  • Videocassettes.

Subject Topics

  • Alternative spaces (Arts facilities)
  • American drama |y 20th century.
  • Art -x Exhibitions -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Art -- E-perimental methods.
  • Art, American -- New York (State) -- New York -y 20th century.
  • Artistic collaboration
  • Artists -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Artists -- United States.
  • Authors and artists.
  • Avant-garde theater.
  • Off-Broadway theater.
  • Performing arts -- Finance.
  • Performing arts -- Production and direction.
  • Poets.
  • Theater -- Production and direction.
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York -x History -y 20th century.
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Theater -- United States -x History -y 20th century.
  • Theater.

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Donated to Fales Library in 2007 by Susan Davies.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers. Appointments are necessary for the use of manuscript and archival collections.

Use Restrictions

Collection use is subject to all copyright laws. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Director of Fales Library and Special Collections. Please contact fales.library@nyu.edu. or call 212 998 2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); The Eye and Ear Theatre Archive; MSS 195; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.

Related Materials

Bob Holman Audio/ Video Poetry Collection; MSS 128; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

Downtown Flyers and Invitations Collection; MSS 119; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries

Kenward Elmslie Papers; MSS 0521; Mandeville Special Collections Library; University of California-San Diego

Separated Material

There is no information regarding materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

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Container List

Series I: Administrative Materials, 1977-1993

Subseries A: General Administrative Materials

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Actors Equity Association
1988
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Artistic Statement (pre-1987)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Contributor Listings
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Correspondence - Susan Davis
1980-1983
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Correspondence - Edinburgh Fringe
1987
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Correspondence - Eye and Ear General
1983-1991
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Correspondence - Eye and Ear Theater Opportunity - National and Abroad
1981-1983
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Correspondence - Eye and Ear Theater Board
1981-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Dinner and Performance Reservation Cards
1987
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Factsheets (New - 1988)
1988
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Factsheets (Pre-1987)
1979-1982
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Mailing Lists
1989
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Minutes - Board of Directors Meetings
1981-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Minutes - Board of Directors Meetings
1986-1988
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Photographs - Black and White
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Photographs - Slides
1981
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Press - General
1979-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Public Relations
1979-1988
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Screening Response Cards
1988-1989

Subseries B: Fundraising and Grant Materials

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Andy Warhol Foundation
1986-1989
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Benefit - 11/16/1982
1982
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Benefit - 4/21/1985
1985
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Benefit - May 1987
1987
Box: 1 Folder : 24 Fundraising - General (pre-1986)
1979-1986
Box: 1 Folder : 25 Fundraising - 1981-1985
1981-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Fundraising 1986 - Positive Responses
1986-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 27 Fundraising 1986-1987 - Negative Responses
1986-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 28 Fundraising Success and Miscellaneous Possibilities
1979-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 29 Grant Supplemental Material - Miscellaneous
1987
Box: 1 Folder : 30 Leonhardt Foundation
1985-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 31 Museum of Modern Art
1989
Box: 1 Folder : 32 National Endowment for the Arts
1983-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 33 National Endowment for the Arts Final Report: Annie's White Glove - Application and Report
1985-1986
Box: 1 Folder : 34 National Endowment for the Arts Final Report: City Junket
1980-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 35 Rudin Foundation
1984-1989
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Scarapino / Myles / DeWoody
1989
Box: 1 Folder : 37 Tickets - May 12
1982-1983

Subseries C: Financial Materials

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Eye and Ear Theater Primary Corporate Papers - Kozak, Tax, etc.
1979-1983
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Fiscal Year End Statements
1979-1993
Box: 1 Folder : 40 Form 990
1987, 1996

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Series II: Production Files, 1979 - 1988

Subseries A: Anne's White Glove

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 41 Biographies and Contracts - Anne's White Glove - April 1985
1984-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 42 Budget Information - Anne's White Glove
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 43 General Notes / Correspondence - Anne's White Glove - April 1985
1984-1986
Box: 1 Folder : 44 Press - Anne's White Glove - April 1985
1984-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 45 Programs / Announcements - Anne's White Glove - April 1985
1985
Box: 1 Folder : 46 Script - Anne's White Glove - April 1985
1984

Subseries B: City Junket

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 47 General Notes / Correspondence - City Junket - 1980
1980
Box: 1 Folder : 48 Litany Benefit
1980
Box: 1 Folder : 49 Press - City Junket - 1980
1979-1983
Box: 1 Folder : 50 Program / Flier - City Junket - 1980
1980

Subseries C: Desire Caught by the Tail

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 51 Announcement, Program, and Benefit Information - Desire Caught by the Tail - Summer 1984
1984
Box: 1 Folder : 52 Artist in the Theater Exhibition - Guild Hall - June 1984
1982-1984
Box: 1 Folder : 53 General Notes / Correspondence - Desire Caught by the Tail - Summer 1984
1984-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 54 Press - Desire Caught by the Tail - Summer 1984
1984

Subseries D: Four Plays

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Artist Biographies and Information - Four Plays
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Budget Information - Four Plays
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Edwin Denby Memorial
1984
Box: 2 Folder : 4 General Notes / Correspondence - Four Plays - March 1981
1981
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Press - Four Plays - March 1981
1981
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Program - Four Plays - March 1981
1981
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Script - Four Plays - March 1981
undated

Subseries E: The Heroes and  Shopping and Waiting

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Budget Summary - The Heroes
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Press - The Heroes and Shopping and Waiting - November 1981
1981
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Programs / Announcements - The Heroes and Shopping and Waiting - November 1981
1981

Subseries F: Kaddish

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Actors' Information and Others - Kaddish
1988
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Artist / Production Biographies - Kaddish
1986-1987
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Artists Contracts - Kaddish
1987
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Budgets - Kaddish
1988
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Announcement - Kaddish - 1987-1988
1988
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Notes - Kaddish
1987-1988
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Photographs (Color) - Kaddishh Set
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Photographs (Color) - Kaddish Set
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Press - Ginsberg, Kaddish
1983
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Press Release - Kaddish
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 21 The RAPP Arts Center
1987-1988
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Scripts - Kaddish - 1987-1988
1987
Box: 2 Folder : 23 William Patterson State College - Kaddish, Other Options
1986-1987

Subseries G: Paid on Both Sides

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 24 Black and White Photographs - Paid on Both Sides - May 1983
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Budget Summary - Paid on Both Sides
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 26 General Notes / Correspondence - Paid on Both Sides
1983
Box: 2 Folder : 27 Press - Paid on Both Sides
1983
Box: 2 Folder : 28 Programs and Announcements - Paid on Both Sides - May 1983
1983
Box: 2 Folder : 29 Script - Paid on Both Sides - May 1983
undated

Subseries H: The White Snake

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 30 Announcements - The White Snake - May 1982
1982
Box: 2 Folder : 31 Budget Information - The White Snake
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 32 General Notes / Correspondence - The White Snake - May 1982
1982
Box: 2 Folder : 33 Press - The White Snake - May 1982
1982
Box: 2 Folder : 34 Script - The White Snake - May 1982
undated

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Series III: Playbills, Announcements, Promotional Material, and Clippings

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 35 Programs for Productions by Other Companies
1965-1980
Box: 2 Folder : 36 Programs for Productions by Other Companies
1980-1984
Box: 2 Folder : 37 Programs for Productions by Other Companies and Postcards
1984-1991, Undated
Box: 2 Folder : 38 Programs and Announcements for Productions by the Eye and Ear Theater Company
1980-1988
Box: 2 Folder : 39 Promotional Material - The White Snake and Exhibition Catalogs - "Artist in the Theater"

General note

See Also Series III Oversize, Box 4, Folder 3

1982-1984
Box: 2 Folder : 40 Clippings and Notes
1968-1991, Undated
Box: 2 Folder : 41 Clippings
1981-1990, Undated
Box: 2 Folder : 42 Clippings - Articles on Collaboration in the Theater
1978-1983, Undated

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Series IV: Video

Subseries A: Access Copies

Conditions Governing Access

Access copies do not currently exist. See a Fales archivist for access.

Subseries B: Originals

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 43 Roll #1, Camera: Peter Stein, Tape Operator: Mark Goodermote, 5/19/83

General note

Format: 3/4 in. Umatic

TRT: [unknown]

1983
Box: 2 Folder : 44 Roll #3, Camera: Peter Stein, Tape Operator: Mark Goodermote, 5/19/83

General note

Format: 3/4 in. Umatic

TRT: [unknown]

1983
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Making Kaddish: A Documentary on the 1988 Eye and Ear Theatre Production of Allen Ginsberg's Play  Kaddish, Produced and Directed by Vivien Bittencourt and Nicholas Maravell

General note

Format: 3/4 in. Umatic

TRT: 00:28:00

1988

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Oversize

Series II Subseries D Oversize

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Poster - Four Plays March 1981
1981

Series II Subseries H Oversize

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Program - The White Snake
1982

Series III Oversize

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Leather Scarf - The White Snake

General note

Removed from Series III, Box 2, Folder 39

Undated

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