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Guide to the Eye and Ear Theater Archive MSS 195

Fales Library and Special Collections
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Phone: (212) 998-2596
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Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Colin Wells and Zachary Dabbs, 2009.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 12, 2018
Finding aid written in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Abbie Auster for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description.  , September 2018

Descriptive Summary

Source - dnr: Davis, Susan L.
Creator: Eye & Ear Theater
Title: Eye and Ear Theater Archive
Dates [inclusive]: 1965-1996
Dates [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, video recordings, and photographs of the performances, art, and individuals involved.
Quantity: 2.6 Linear Feet in 2 record cartons, 1 half manuscript box, 1 flat box, and 1 flat file folder.
Quantity: 3 videocassettes (u-matic)
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.
Language: All materials are in English.
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 Davis 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 Contents

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 Davis. 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.

Series IV: Video are in chronological order and aranged into two subseries of originals and access copies.

The series and subseries arrangement of the records is as follows:

Series I, Administrative Materials, 1977-1993 Subseries A, General Administrative Materials Subseries B, Fundraising and Grant Materials Subseries C, Financial Materials

Series II, Production Files, 1979-1988 Subseries A, Annie's White Glove Subseries B, City Junket Subseries C, Desire Caught by the Tail Subseries D, Four Plays Subseries E, The Heroes and Shopping and Waiting Subseries F, Kaddish Subseries G, Paid on Both Sides Subseries H, The White Snake

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

Series IV, Video Recordings Subseries A, Access Copies Subseries B, Originals

Oversize Series II Subseries B Oversize Series II Subseries D Oversize Series II Subseries H Oversize Series III Oversize

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Access Points

Subject Names

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

Document Type

  • Plays (performed works).

Subject Topics

  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Theater -- Production and direction.
  • Off-Broadway theater.
  • Avant-garde theater.
  • Performing arts -- Production and direction.
  • Authors and artists.
  • Alternative spaces (Arts facilities).

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Eye and Ear Theater was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Eye and Ear Theater Archive; MSS 195; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University.

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

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact fales.library@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Susan L. Davis, 2007. The accession number associated with this gift is 2007.195.

Processing Information

Processing decisions made prior to August 2018 have not been recorded.

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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

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 recordings. 3 videocassettes (u-matic)

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact fales.library@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Subseries A: Access Copies

Conditions Governing Access

Video materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers.

Subseries B: Originals

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Roll #1, Camera: Peter Stein, Tape Operator: Mark Goodermote

Conditions Governing Access

Currently unavailable until duplication occurs.

General

Original format: 3/4 in. Umatic

Duration: unknown

May 19, 1983
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Roll #3, Camera: Peter Stein, Tape Operator: Mark Goodermote

Conditions Governing Access

Currently unavailable until duplication occurs.

General

Original format: 3/4 in. Umatic

Duration: unknown

Mary 5, 1983
Box: 3 Folder : 3 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

Conditions Governing Access

Currently unavailable until duplication occurs.

General

Original format: 3/4 in. Umatic

Duration: 28 minutes

1988

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Oversize

Series II Subseries B Oversize

Container 1     Title Date
Flat-File-Folder: 20 Poster - City Junket
undated

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

Removed from Series III, Box 2, Folder 39

Undated

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