by Cecelia Bellomy

Over the years, many printmaking companies have gone digital or disbanded in the wake of technological advances, leaving letterpress printing equipment to be sold, thrown out, or simply forgotten. This is not true for of all presses, however, and it certainly is not true of Hatch Show Print. The vintage and digital worlds collided recently when Jim Sherraden, manager of Hatch Show Print in Nashville, came to visit the Ohio State Department of Design.


Sherraden and TRI’s Curtiss Show Print Collection Materials

This visit was held in the Thompson Library Special Collections Reading Room on February 20th for Peter Chan’s Intro to Visual Communication Design II class for the Department of Design second-year undergraduates, but a wide range of graduate students and faculty also came to experience what was an incredible opportunity for anyone interested in letterpress printmaking, promotional art, or design in general. Sherraden gave a special lecture using the TRI’s Curtiss Show Print Collection to talk about the art of letterpress printing and then examined the second-year students’ letterpress work, giving praise and advice and using the archival prints for context.


Hatch Show Print Master Printer

In addition to being master printer for Hatch Show Print where he has worked since the mid-eighties, Sherraden is an active visual artist exploring the aesthetic potential of the historical printing resources of the press. Before Sherraden came to Hatch, it looked like its doors may be about to close permanently.  After its establishment by Charles R. and Herbert H. Hatch in 1875, Hatch Show Print (at that time CR and HH Hatch) steadily became a major name in show printing and had its heyday from the mid-1920s to the early fifties under the ownership of Charles’ son Will Hatch.  The press took jobs as vast and varied as country, bluegrass, and, eventually, rock concerts, advertising for companies and movies, and promotional materials for travelling diversions like minstrel shows and circuses. (This was the common work for show printers at that time, including Curtiss Show Print from Continental, Ohio. See the Curtiss Collection for examples of show prints from Curtiss.) However, after Will’s death, the company ownership changed hands many times, and this coupled with the increasing digitalization of the medium threatened to put Hatch out of business. Jim Sherraden came to the company at the perfect moment, revitalizing it and shepherding it through its purchase by Gaylord Entertainment (owners of The Grand Ole Opry) and donation to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1992.

Jim is a celebrity in the printmaking world and a major figure in the revival letterpress printing has found in the last few years. He believes in preserving the manual labor and homespun quality of non-digital printing in a philosophy he describes as “preservation through production.” Hatch Show Print embodies this philosophy, continuing to take orders for musical acts, tours, businesses, and product promotion, doing 500-600 jobs each year.


OSU Design Undergrads

The Ohio State design undergrads are used to working primarily with digital printmaking, though their recent projects were letterpress, so getting to meet with Sherraden provided the opportunity to not only improve their own work, but to learn from the history of their craft. Sherraden himself was introduced to Hatch by a college instructor who admired his exhibit of linocuts and woodblock carvings, so perhaps one of these second-year students will one day credit Sherraden’s visit and instruction as the beginning of their own career in design.

The TRI would like to say thank you to Columbus Society of Communicating Arts for bringing Jim Sherraden to Columbus in the first place for a sold-out presentation at the Gateway Film Institute and a workshop with Igloo Press in Worthington.

Department of Design blogpost


 From the Armbruster Scenic Studio Collection SPEC.TRI.ARM.1.50

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute staff

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute staff

Danish Porgy and Bess Production Used as Tool for Nazi Resistance

Danish Porgy and Bess Used as Tool for Nazi Resistance

by Cecelia Bellomy

Cecelia Bellomy holds Holger Bech  letter to Breen

Cecelia Bellomy holds Holger Bech letter to Breen

Robert’s Breen touring production of the African American folk­opera Porgy and Bess is most notable for its use as a political tool during the Cold War, unprecedentedly being allowed to tour in the U.S.S.R. But this was not the first time Porgy and Bess was used to fight tyranny.

While the Breen production famously toured the world, it was not the first production of the opera to be done overseas. This claim goes to the Royal Danish Opera in Denmark. From the Theatre Research Institute’s records on the Breen touring production, there is some correspondence which uncovers this little­known first overseas production and the political controversy attached to it.

Carl Strakosch Limited bought the rights for a Scandinavian production of Porgy and Bess between 1938 and 1939, and Holger Bech translated the script into Danish. Performed with an all­white cast, the production debuted in March, 1943, three years after the beginning of Nazi occupation. The Germans, incensed by a production full of black characters (even performed by whites) written by the Jewish George Gershwin, “protested against this ‘offence’ [sic] and threatened to blow up the theatre” Bech wrote to Breen. With a sold out house every night, the performances continued in the face of Nazi scrutiny, eventually with “20 policemen posted around the building” for security. The production carried on until 1944 when the “whole policeforce [sic] was arrested and sent to camps in Germany.” The production was then jubilantly revived in May, 1945 after the end of occupation and continued to be performed until 1952.  Bech writes that staging Porgy and Bess became a part of the Danish “‘Resistance Spirit’” against the Nazis and that the production “helped [the Danish people] through the bad years” of occupation.

All of the letters from which the above quotations were taken  are letters in which Bech begs Breen to give Carl Strakosch Ltd. back the rights to revive the Scandinavian production of Porgy and Bess. Breen revoked the rights in 1952 after his Everyman Opera Company gained control of them. Breen never allowed Bech the rights, as he refused to let the opera be performed by anyone besides African Americans. This correspondence finds itself at a fascinating intersection: Bech wanting the production back which spirited his countrymen against Nazi oppression, and Breen refusing a production which perpetuated the oppression of blacks. Porgy and Bess finally returned to the Danish Opera House in 2014 with an all­black cast as a symbol of freedom on two fronts.

Note: All of the letters quoted above can be found in the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at call number SPEC.TRI.RB.1.87.8

The blogpost author:

Cecelia Bellomy is a 2nd Year (Sophomore) English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration and a Theatre minor.  She has been a student employee at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute for a year and a half, most recently working with the Robert Breen Collection.

TRI 2015-2016 Visiting Research Fellowships

University Libraries Thompson Library Special Collections
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute
119 Thompson Library
1858 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
614-292-6614  Phone
614-688-8417  Fax

2015-2016 Visiting Research Fellowships 

See form at bottom

Application deadline
15 April 2015

The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute invites applications for two fellowships:

•    The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Visiting Research Fellowship for scholars who wish to do research that requires significant use of the Institute’s collections.  The fellowship is $3000 for the period of at least one month, for research to be performed during the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016.  A selected list of holdings with brief collection descriptions may be found at the Institute website, http://go.osu.edu/tri.

•    The Irwin and Jane Spector Fellowship for scholars engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, and independent research that requires significant use of the Institute’s collections on Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Fellowship stipends are $750 per week for a minimum of two and maximum of four weeks. For detailed information about the Dalcroze research resources of The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, please see collection finding aids:

Irwin Spector Collection: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/xOU-TR0010

Dalcroze School of Music Collection: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/xOU-TR0015

Dalcroze Society of America Collection:http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/xOU-TR1001

John Colman Collection: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/xOU-TR0013

Foreign nationals as well as United States citizens may apply.  Preference is given to applicants from outside the Columbus, Ohio, commuting area.

Fellows are expected to be in continuous residence for the period of the award. It is anticipated that during their residencies, fellows will share their work with the university community through a lecture, master class, or other appropriate means. A brief final report on research conducted during the residency must be submitted within two months after the completion of the residency.

The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute holdings include design and technical theatre collections, personal papers, and organizational archives.  Through the University Libraries in association with the Department of Theatre, the Institute acquires, preserves, and makes accessible materials documenting the performing arts for the purposes of scholarship, education, and enjoyment; provides an active teaching component; serves as a source for new works creation, development, and reconstruction; and enriches patrons’ experiences of materials revealing our performing arts culture and history.

For further information, please contact the Fellowship Committee, care of Nena Couch (couch.1@osu.edu; office: 614-292-9606), Beth Kattelman (kattelman.1@osu.edu; office: 614-688-3305), or Mary Tarantino (tarantino.1@osu.edu; office: 614-688-4349).

Application form




A case containing items from the Theatre Research Institute and the discoveries the theatre grad students made about them is now featured in the Special Collections Display Area of the Thompson Library.

6701 display 3

The display case highlights work done by students of the Autumn 2014 Theatre Research Methods Class (taught by Dr. Beth Kattelman). Each student spent part of the semester investigating an object assigned to them from the TRI collections.

The items on display are:

19th-century photograph of an Uncle Tom’s Cabin theatrical company [Artists’ Photograph Collection], researched by Karie Miller.

Sciopticon Image Projector with Motorized Effect Wheel, c.1950 [Optical Entertainments Collection], researched by Andy Baker.

Early-20th-century photograph of unidentified vaudeville performers [Curtiss Showprint Collection], researched by Leslie Smith.

Photograph of unidentified Chautauqua performer, c. 1920 [Curtiss Showprint Collection], researched by Yi-Ping Wu.

Photograph of Empress Chorus Girls, 1931 [Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs], researched by Joshua Truett.

Seth Thomas Clock Company Clockwork Mechanism, c. 1930 [Joel E. Rubin Collection], researched by Joshua Poston

6701 display 2


To see what the students discovered about these items, visit the display case area on the Library’s first floor.




In 2013, Dr. Mervyn Heard, TRI Research Fellowship recipient, used that support to travel from his home in England to the TRI in order to study the magic lantern “pose slides” that are contained in the Joel E. Rubin Collection. (see our blog posting of April 4, 2013). Heard, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the magic lantern, has now shared his findings in an article featured in the current issue of TD&T (Theatre Design and Technology).

Dressesd in Light


Dr. Heard’s article, “Dressed in Light: The Ancient Art of Projecting on People,” explores the unique tableaux vivant performances in which the hand-painted, glass pose slides were featured. These entertainments used magic lanterns to project scenes upon live performers. They were popular in vaudeville, variety and cabaret during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

To find out more about Dr. Heard and work on the magic lantern, visit http://www.mervynheard.com/

If you’d like to see scans of the pose slides upon which Dr. Heard based his article, please click on the following link:  http://kb.osu.edu/dspace/handle/1811/56639.

To see information on obtaining the current issue of TD&T, click here:  http://tdt.usitt.org/

–Beth Kattelman, Curator of Theatre





On December 3rd the TRI’s Curator of Theatre, Dr. Beth Kattelman, gave a presentation at Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures entitled, Scene at the Museum: Performing Exhibits and Exhibiting Performance. The talk explored the synergy between exhibits and performance, focusing in particular on how puppets are especially potent in their ability to evoke the stories of a specific time and place.


Kattelman at Mathers

Kattelman at Mathers


Dr. Kattelman was invited to deliver the presentation by Dr. Jennifer Goodlander, Assistant Professor of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance at Indiana U. Dr. Goodlander is currently teaching a class on Museums and Performance, and her students are in the process of curating an exhibit entitled Still/Moving: Puppets and Indonesia which opens on December 12, 2014.

Pamela Howard: Stage Designer

Pamela Howard: Stage Designer

Pamela Howard: Stage Designer


Sud Costa Occidentale: A Story in Images

Sud Costa Occidentale: A Story in Images

Thompson Library Exhibition Space, September 1 through 10th during library hours.

Curated by Beth Kattelman and Francesca Spedalieri, with additional help from Shelby Brewster and Justin Luna


Exhibit photo 1

Exhibit photo 2


This exhibition features photographs, prints and posters chronicling the work of Sicilian theatre artist Emma Dante and her company Sud Costa Occidentale. The photographs were taken by Giuseppe Distefano, a professional photographer who has documented Dante’s work for years.

Photos of Compagnia Sud Costa Occidentale by Guiseppi Distefano

 Photos of Compagnia Sud Costa Occidentale by Giuseppe Distefano

 Photos of Compagnia Sud Costa Occidentale by Guiseppi Distefano_2

 Photos of Compagnia Sud Costa Occidentale by Giuseppe Distefano



The exhibition also features prints of original drawings created by Maria Cristina Costa, a freelance illustrator who has collaborated with Dante on several projects including two children’s books: Anastasia, Drusilla, and Cinderella; and The Highs and Lows of Snow White.

Illustration for Anastasia, Drusilla, and Cinderella by Maria Cristina Costa

 Illustration for Anastasia, Drusilla, and Cinderella by Maria Cristina Costa

Illustration for The Highs and Lows of Snow White, by Maria Cristina Costa

  Illustration for The Highs and Lows of Snow White, by Maria Cristina Costa


The prints of Distefano’s photographs and Costa’s illustrations are now a part of the permanent collection of the Theatre Research Institute and are available to interested researchers.

This exhibition is presented as part of The Ohio State University’s Emma Dante Project, an event that will bring the theatre company to the United States for the first time. As part of the project, the company will perform their most recent work Operetta Burlesca (Operetta Burlesque) on September 3, 4 and 5 at OSU’s Thurber Theatre. An interdisciplinary symposium and the screening of a new documentary on Dante’s work will also be presented as part of the project. For more information: https://theatre.osu.edu/events/operetta-burlesque and http://theatre.osu.edu/events/blurring-boundaries-without-burning-bridges.

“Lovely Hula Hands”

2014 IMLS Fellow Keahiahi Long Visits Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute

2014 Dance Heritage Coalition IMLS Fellow Keahiahi Long (right) and former DHC Fellow Rachael Riggs Leyva (left)

2014 Dance Heritage Coalition IMLS Fellow Keahiahi Long (right) and former DHC Fellow Rachael Riggs Leyva (left)

2014 Dance Heritage Coalition IMLS Fellow Keahiahi Long (right) and former DHC Fellow Rachael Riggs Leyva (left) explore a Labanotation score of “Lovely Hula Hands” in the Carl Wolz Papers of the Dance Notation Bureau Collection, finding interesting changes from the time the dance style was observed and notated to the way it is now practiced. 

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