August 2009


Sheet music cover for "It's All Your Fault," popularized by Sophie Tucker

Sheet music cover for "It's All Your Fault," popularized by Sophie Tucker

Interesting piece in yesterday’s New York Times on the release of a new CD (remember those?), Sophie Tucker: Origins of the Red Hot Mama, 1910-1922, which includes fresh digital transfers of some of the singer’s earliest recordings.   You can sample some snippets of these recordings, as well as view a few images from one of the several Sophie Tucker collections held by the various divisions of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery ID# G98C170_001

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Portrait of Lydia Lopokova from color brochure advertising Ballets Russes 1916-1917 American tour

Portrait of Lydia Lopokova from color brochure advertising Ballets Russes 1916-1917 American tour

For those of us who can’t be there right now, the appearance of a couple of reviews of the current exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Diaghilev’s Theater of Marvels,  recently made us pick up our ears.  One is an overview, by Julie Bloom, in The Paper of Record, complete with the by-now-expected “multimedia” feature, which also includes information on some additional, upcoming Diaghilev tribute events in the New York area.  The other, which admittedly did more to thaw the frozen cockles of our heart, was a blog post by Oregon Ballet Theatre soloist, Adrian Fry, recounting a recent whirlwind weekend in New York, in which, along with taking class and checking out dancewear, he found the time to visit the Diaghilev show (and also tracked down a Manhattan venue that served Stumptown coffee).

We love to see stories about performers and practitioners actually using libraries and archives!  We also love coffee!  When in Portland (and even sometimes in Seattle) we enjoy the occasional visit to  Stumptown, but when in New York, we often can be found at Café Grumpy.  Counting the days now!

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery ID# BALRUSSE_BR01

Just a reminder that more Performing Arts Roundtable goodness awaits you tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM with the program, Saving De Niro’s Boxing Trunks: Sustaining Performing Arts Archives Collaboratively. The featured panelists, Helen Adair (Harry Ransom Center), Karen Nickeson (New York Public Library), and Libby Smigel (Dance Heritage Coalition) will discuss recent projects that have addressed 21st-century cataloging, preservation, and fair use.

Those of you who attended Wednesday’s PAR meeting had a chance to get up close and personal with said boxing trunks.  For another glimpse of the De Niro collection, you can watch this YouTube video partly narrated by Helen:

Stay tuned for more!

Window into Meeting Room at HRC

Window into Meeting Room at HRC

Apologies for the picture.  I remembered I had my camera with me this time around, but, unfortunately, due to understandable security issues, we all had to relinquish our personal belongings before entering the meeting room at the Harry Ransom Center.  So I had to be content with taking a shot of the window of the room upon exiting (and if you were here you would understand why I wouldn’t want to take the time to snap a picture out of doors in the midday sun).    But at least you can catch a glimpse of one of the scepters used in the Robert De Niro film, The Score.  At least I think it was that film, although the plot synopsis does not make a scepter seem a necessary accessory — please correct me if I’m wrong.  At any rate, it was from a De Niro movie I’m sure I have never seen.

Reproduction of Walter Plunkett burgundy ball gown for "Gone with the Wind," David O. Selznick Archive, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin

Reproduction of Walter Plunkett burgundy ball gown for "Gone with the Wind," David O. Selznick Archive, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin

This curiosity was just one of the many treasures from the HRC collections brought out by our host, associate curator in charge of performing arts collections, Helen Adair.  Other items included a Shakespeare first folio, one of Marlon Brando’s address books, an early draft of  Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a Gershwin score, and, perhaps most thrillingly one of Walter Plunkett’s Scarlett O’Hara costumes designed for actress Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. Unfortunately, the famous “curtain dress” was being viewed by another visiting group, but we got to see the no less dramatic “scarlet woman” gown up close.

At the business meeting proper, the new Performing Arts Roundtable leaders were announced: Andrew Wentink will be the new co-chair and Leilani Dawson joins the steering committee.  Many thanks to them for their willingness to serve and a special thanks must go to outgoing co-chair Susan Brady for all her hard work in organizing the Austin program.

The annual business meeting of the SAA Performing Arts Roundtable occurs this afternoon from 1:00-3:00 at the Harry Ransom Center on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin.

As it’s going to be even hotter today, taking the bus or a cab over to the Ransom is a definite must.  In addition to conducting business (bring your ideas!), attendees will be treated to a special tour of the collection by curator Helen Adair.

Drink lots of water, slather on that sunscreen, and consider a hat…

I didn’t see many bats tonight (and I wasn’t the only one), but there’s always tomorrow.  With Big and Carrie gracing my television screen, now seems an opportune to continue the recapitulation of last year’s meeting.

Don’t let Archival Outlook fool you.  For those in the know, the tango lesson during the second half of the session, Getting to the Heart of Performance was far from “unexpected.”  Andrew Wentink was on hand to introduce Stanford dance scholar, Richard Powers, who discussed the early history of the Argentine tango and its adoption/adaptation in various countries.  Richard then demonstrated a 1916 version (I believe, no notes at hand) with his frequent partner, Joan Walton and invited meeting attendees to participate.  Which they did.  We have a sampling of photographs on the aforementioned Flickr site, but you should also check out a brief moment on Youtube:

What better way to prepare for the extravaganza that is the 2009 SAA Annual Meeting than to look fondly back at last year’s program?  OK, there are probably better ways to prepare, but since I hadn’t gotten around to it until now and am taking refuge from the heat until it’s time for the bats, here goes.

For those of you who were in San Francisco and in Austin today, try to summon the memories of  those brisk San Francisco evenings and sit back and relax.  For those of you who weren’t in San Francisco and aren’t here in Austin, I guess you can just picnic and dream.

Chinese hammered dulcimer or yangqin

Chinese hammered dulcimer or yangqin

Session 406 of SAA2008, you may recall, was a program organized by the Performing Arts  Roundtable entitled, “Getting to the Heart of Performance: Archivists as Creative Collaborators.”   Its main purpose was to encourage archivists to work with performers, practitioners, and, yes, even amateurs, to utilize those performing arts materials in your collections through live performance; to bring them to life.

The first part of the session, introduced by Scott Schwartz, featured a brief talk by Anthony Brown, director of San Francisco’s own Asian American Orchestra explaining how he had used archival material to inform his own innovative musical arrangements.  Brown’s discussion was followed by a performance by ensemble member, Zhao Yangqin on her instrument, the Chinese hammered dulcimer or yangqin.  You can see a few more (admittedly not very good) pictures on our Flickr site or you can watch a clip of the Asian American Orchestra at an anniversary celebration that took place just a few weeks later: