January 2009

Portrait of Alvin Ailey by Carl Van Vechten

Portrait of Alvin Ailey by Carl Van Vechten


Those of you in New York, please take advantage of this opportunity to see “rare archival material” screened and a special exhibition of posters from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Walter Reade Theater.

Read the full description of tomorrow’s program here.

Image credit: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Image ID# 1094155


The Plaza, San Juan, Puerto Rico. no. 54082.

The Plaza, San Juan, Puerto Rico. no. 54082.

ASTR-TLA Annual Conference/TLA Call for Papers

American Society for Theatre Research
November 11-15, 2009

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Theatre, Performance, and DestiNation

Theatre Library Association Plenary
Call for Papers

“Playing” the Pilgrim:  Scholars, Collections, and Archival DestiNations

Performing arts archives and special collections are a destination for artifacts and ephemera – as well as for the artists and scholars who experience them.  The research process is a journey undertaken for diverse purposes and outcomes.  This panel poses an investigation of the kind of “play” that occurs between archive and destination, research and journey, and the scholar-pilgrim-voyeur.

Proposals may consider the following questions:

•       How does a performance undertake the journey from ephemeral cultural expression to tangible archival evidence?  How do archives and special collections serve as destinations for performances?

•       What is involved when a performing arts archive or collection travels from its place of origin to a new repository, or across repositories in different geopolitical regions?  What does it mean for a collection to come “home?”

•       What challenges are presented to archives and special collections when theatre itself “travels” (as when it tours), becoming, in effect, a moveable destination?

•       How does research travel to archives and special collections negotiate the tension between pilgrimage and voyeuristic consumption?  In what ways does research travel become performative?

•       How do libraries and archives participate as sites of privileged viewing and local experience?  How do special collections engage issues of privacy or stage themselves to an audience?

•       Are theatre archives and special collections themselves an “island?”  How do they reflect or reinvent “island culture?”  Are they tied to the mainland of performance practices or archival methodologies?  How do theatre archives and performing arts collections “travel” across these boundaries?

Please submit one-page Proposal by February 1, 2009 to:

Colleen Reilly

Chair, TLA Plenary

Arts Library, Yale University


Image credit: Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Image ID 1037089

Lest this blog be spoken of as being moribund, here are a few random and fairly recent items from various blogs that interested us.

First, although at the moment it has no direct bearing on performing arts archives or archivists, the news that the Amato Opera in New York City would be closing its doors in May made us very, very sad.  Upon reflection, however, while we still are sad that this irreplaceable piece of real New York would be vanishing forever, after reading the accounts of its various moves over the years and looking at pictures and ephemera relating to other companies no longer in existence, we became more optimistic that some brave soul would pick up the banner in his or her own way and time.  At any rate, although the story made it quickly to the Times and other media, it was reported first (and better?) in the blogs.

Next, we turn to the frequently cited and award-winning processing blog, A View to Hugh.  Although it currently contains only three entries in the “Jazz” category, these include some wonderful images and can serve as an interesting case study of an exchange between archivists and user communities.  Maybe someone here  can help them out with some other identifications?  We also wonder whether or not we were the only ones who found the tone of the most recent post in that category, while probably done with the best of intentions, to be a bit grating and insensitive?

Finally, we turn our attention to another processing (although they insist on “cataloguing”) blog, the Harold Pinter Archive Blog, mainly to express: a) our sense of chagrin, that in spite of reporting on the acquisition of the collection over a year ago here, we had been unaware that the blog existed until Pinter’s recent passing; and b) congratulations on helping to make this collection so quickly accessible to the public.

Happy new year!  By now I know better than to make any resolutions or promises regarding this blog and its posts.

Don & Hedwig Petro, artists, confer with Victor Borge over advertising for ViBo farms.

Don & Hedwig Petro, artists, confer with Victor Borge over advertising for ViBo farms.

For now, let’s just celebrate Victor Borge with news that an exhibition will be opening  later this month at the Scandinavia House in New York City.  The show, which is scheduled to run from 23 January – 2 May 2009, promises to “explore his life and achievements through a collection of film clips, recordings, photographs and memorabilia from Borge’s personal archives.”

So do stop by, have some gravlaks for me while you’re there, and send in your impressions!

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID# 89276