March 2010


Dancer Sophia Delza, possibly in costume for Broadway production of "Fiesta" (1929)

This blog normally doesn’t cover the work of moving image archives as such, but I was especially excited to hear about a retrospective on the documentary filmmaker, Leo Hurwitz, currently running at New York’s Anthology Film Archives.  This series is presenting a wealth of rarely screened films in an effort to reexamine Hurwitz’s seminal career within the context of a “New York School of Documentary Film” that emerged during the 1930s.  You can read more about Hurwitz in this overview of the series from the Village Voice and in this PBS interview with his son, Tom (also a documentary filmmaker).

I first became aware of Leo Hurwitz and the fascinating Hurwitz family when I processed the papers of one of his sisters, dancer Sophia Delza (although the term, “dancer,” here hardly captures the protean nature of her career any more adequately than “documentary filmmaker” defines that of Leo Hurwitz), and I am extremely sorry to have to miss this series.  Leo Hurwitz also was married for many years to Jane Dudley, another prominent figure in modern dance.  Haiku (1965), a short film featuring her work will be shown tomorrow.

In what could be an interesting development, the New York Times blog, Arts Beat, recently announced a (temporary?) new feature, “Ask a Theater Historian,” in which readers get to post questions “about the history of the American theater” to Marc Robinson.  There already are quite a few questions.   Stay tuned.

Hamlet (Cat), NYPL Digital Gallery ID#: TH-18164

A major gross out story in today’s Guardian about the infestation of West End theatres prompted me to look for an image of a venerable theatre cat.  Instead, I found a mystery set of digitized photographs of Hamlet (cat) from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Billy Rose Theatre Division photographs file; it was filed under “Personalities – H”.

Backstory, please!