SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #6

SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #6

Meet Isaiah Johnson!

Isaiah Johnson: OSU senior

Isaiah Johnson: OSU senior

Isaiah Johnson is a senior at Ohio State studying theatre and political science with a minor in economics. He has been an active participant in the Department of Theatre, most recently acting in Marisol; Maybe, Baby It’s You; and The Merry Wives of Windsor. In the spring he was accepted into the University Library’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, where he has been conducting research in the Theatre Research Institute’s Jeff Corey Collection, a collection of the personal papers of the well-respected 20th century character actor, director, and teacher Jeff Corey.

 

Jeff Corey Collection SPEC.TRI.JC

Jeff Corey Collection SPEC.TRI.JC

Corey’s stature in the film community as a leftist brought him to the doorstep of the House Un-American Committee (HUAC) in the fifties. His refusal to name names to the committee put him on a Hollywood blacklist, leaving him without any roles for twelve years. During his blacklisting, Corey took up teaching as a means to make ends meet. His background in Stanislavski, Brecht, Method, and Chekov made him a highly sought-out teacher. Corey taught nearly ten thousand students over his forty-year career, including some who went on to become extremely famous including: Jack Nicholson, James Dean, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, Robin Williams, and Leonard Nimoy.

Isaiah has been studying Corey’s collection in order to develop a new play based on his life. Using inspiration from items in the collection, Isaiah hopes to write a show that parallels elements of political intensity and perceptions of media based “threats to freedom” during Jeff’s blacklisting period with those of today.

Isaiah plans to submit his play to the Department of Theatre’s Lab Series program for an opportunity of a first showing in the spring, the final semester before he graduates in May.

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SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #6

Meet Isaiah Johnson!

 

GRADUATE DESIGNERS EXPLORE TRI COLLECTIONS

GRADUATE DESIGNERS EXPLORE TRI COLLECTIONS

 

Seven students enrolled in a Theatre graduate design seminar presented their research findings at the end of spring semester 2018. Each student examined a collection from the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute aligned with their specific research interest.

 

Justin Miller and his renderings for Guys and Dolls from 1984

Justin Miller and his renderings for Guys and Dolls from 1984

Justin Miller, scene design MFA, studied the work of Russell Hastings (former scene design faculty at Ohio State) and his renderings for Guys and Dolls from 1984, with an eye to calculating production costs, inflation, and other factors for a hypothetical remount in 2018.

 

 

Cynthia Overton looks at Robert Fletcher’s costume designs for Star Trek television.

Cynthia Overton looks at Robert Fletcher’s costume designs for Star Trek television.

Cynthia Overton, costume design MFA, looked at Robert Fletcher’s costume designs for Star Trek television and films from the Gerald Kahan collection. She applied design inspiration from the pieces to reimagine and render several of her own designs.

 

 

Cade Sikora looked at the Kahan collection, the Carrie Robbins and Robert Cothran collections.

Cade Sikora looked at the Kahan collection, the Carrie Robbins and Robert Cothran collections.

Cade Sikora, scene design MFA, also looked at the Kahan collection, as well as the Carrie Robbins and Robert Cothran collections, in order to analyze specific design and rendering techniques for opera from 1882 to the present.

 

 

Carrie Cox investigated the lighting designs of Louise Guthman (former faculty member in the OSU Dance Department).

Carrie Cox investigated the lighting designs of Louise Guthman (former faculty member in the OSU Dance Department).

Carrie Cox, staff member from Dance, investigated lighting designs of Louise Guthman (former faculty member in the Dance Department). Ms. Guthman worked internationally as well as locally with Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater in the 1990s, and Carrie wanted to discover the essential light plot requirements for Pimsler when touring to various theatres.

 

 

Kelsey Gallagher examined the Thomas R. Skelton Collection.

Kelsey Gallagher examined the Thomas R. Skelton Collection.

Kelsey Gallagher, lighting design MFA, examined the Thomas R. Skelton collection to explore what Mr. Skelton considered to be white light in his visual vocabulary.

 

 

Julianne Nogar examined the Skelton collection and materials in the Marcel Marceau collection.

Julianne Nogar examined the Skelton collection and materials in the Marcel Marceau collection.

Julianne Nogar, costume design MFA, also examined the Skelton collection and materials in the Marcel Marceau collection. With an emphasis in both costume and mime, Julianne investigated lighting techniques for Marceau performances and considered how lighting can be used in 21st Century Mime storytelling. She presented her findings with the help of mime partner Gabriel Simms.

 

 

Cassie Lenz delved into the Jaroslav Malina collection.

Cassie Lenz delved into the Jaroslav Malina collection.

Cassie Lenz, scene design MFA, delved into the Jaroslav Malina collection to inquire as to where the principles of Action Design could be used to inform and enhance scenery that requires elements that contradict those principles.

 

 

OUR GRADUATE DESIGNERS WHO EXPLORED THE TRI COLLECTIONS

OUR GRADUATE DESIGNERS WHO EXPLORED THE TRI COLLECTIONS

 

The lecture/demonstrations were attended by faculty, staff and students of the Theatre Department, and they resulted in a fascinating and informative experience for all!


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GRADUATE DESIGNERS EXPLORE TRI COLLECTIONS

2018 MARGO JONES AWARD

Paula Vogel Receives the 2018 Margo Jones Award

at New York City Ceremony

 

 

Paula Vogel accepts the 2018 Margo Jones Award (photo by Anne Sterling)

Paula Vogel accepts the 2018 Margo Jones Award (photo by Anne Sterling)

On April 21, 2018 Damon Jaggars, Vice Provost and Director of The Ohio State University Libraries, Beth Kattelman, Curator of Theatre for the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute (TRI), Nena Couch, Head of Thompson Special Collections and Curator of TRI, and Mary Tarantino, Director of TRI traveled to New York City to present the Margo Jones Award to playwright Paula Vogel at a ceremony held at the Second Stage Theatre on W. 43rd Street. Lawrence and Lee family members Deborah Robison, niece of Jerome Lawrence, Lucy Lee and Jonathan Barlow Lee, children of Robert E. Lee and Jonathan’s wife Neila were also in attendance, as well as Judy Jones, Margo Jones’ niece and Judy’s cousin Roy Hill.

The Margo Jones Award was established in 1961 by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, and has been administered by the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at The Ohio State University since 1993. It commemorates a pioneer of the regional theatre movement who, at her theatre in Dallas, Texas, produced many new works, including Lawrence and Lee’s groundbreaking play Inherit the Wind. The Margo Jones Award is given annually to “that citizen-of-the-theatre who has demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere.”

Damon Jaggars presents Margo Jones Award medal to Paula Vogel (photo by Anne Sterling)

Damon Jaggars presents Margo Jones Award medal to Paula Vogel (photo by Anne Sterling)

This year the honor has been bestowed upon Paula Vogel, a Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright who has not only written numerous prize-winning plays herself, but who also has been a mentor to many emerging playwrights. Most recently, Vogel has received accolades for her play Indecent, which opened on Broadway in April 2017, and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. How I Learned to Drive received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Lucille Lortel Prize, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Play, and a 1997 OBIE Award. Vogel’s other works include The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot ‘N’ Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, The Oldest Profession, A Civil War Christmas and Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq

 

Christina Anderson introduces Paula Vogel (photo by Anne Sterling)

Christina Anderson introduces Paula Vogel (photo by Anne Sterling)

Playwright Christina Anderson, one of Vogel’s former students, was the featured speaker at the ceremony. She gave an inspiring speech about how important Vogel’s mentorship has been to her. Anderson noted that she often tells people that she got her MFA “from the Yale school of Paula.” Vogel then concluded the ceremony with remarks about just how important her students are to her, and then gave generous thanks to the Margo Jones Award Committee and The Ohio State University.

The award ceremony was a rousing success, and a wonderful representation of how The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute fulfills its mission of advancing the study and inspiration of the performing arts both within and beyond the physical borders of our campus.

Paula Vogel Receives the 2018 Margo Jones Award

at New York City Ceremony

SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #5

SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #5

Meet Annabel Pinkney!

nnabel Pinkney Restoring Document

Annabel Pinkney Restoring Document

Annabel Pinkney is a senior at Ohio State studying chemistry with minors in art and art history. She is passionate about the preservation of historic and artistic works, and has been a student employee of the Libraries’ Conservation Unit for nearly three years. Recently she has taken on a project to restore the most recent addition to the Fred D. Pfening collection of the Theater Research Institute. This collection addition consists of over one hundred playbills, posters, and newspapers. These documents come from theaters and circuses from across the United States, dating from the 1860’s through the 20th century.

Before Restoration by Annabel

Before Restoration by Annabel

This collection is high priority for conservation treatment for several reasons. The documents are in high demand for research use, but are currently in need of repair. Their damages include wrinkles, folds, dirt, rips, and tears. In addition, the paper supports are extremely thin or brittle and prone to tearing. To preserve these materials and prepare them for use by contending researchers, Annabel will clean, flatten, and repair each piece. After treatment, each document is to be encapsulated in mylar sleeves to preserve it. One poster can take a 1-3 days to complete, and with over 100 pieces in the collection, this is no small feat.

After Restoration by Annabel

After Restoration by Annabel

Annabel will graduate in May and plans to attend the University of Illinois for a Master in Library and Information Science in the fall.

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SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #5

Meet Annabel Pinkney!

Discover the artiFACTS!: Scars, Scandals, and Society in the Redwoods

Discover the artiFACTS!

Scars, Scandals, and Society in the Redwoods

The Dell’Arte Players’ infamous lady detective.

By Emily Brokamp

Hidden behind the Redwood trees surrounding Humboldt County there’s a mystery that only one detective can solve. Her name is Tissue – Scar Tissue. She’s faced off with evil industries, corrupt officials, over-zealous environmentalists, and more murderers than you can count. Each obstacle she takes with a bottle of booze in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and her head held high; after all, “it ain’t easy being a private dick in Eureka, double trouble if you’re a dame” (Intrigue at Ah-Pah 3).

 

Scar Tissue Joan Schirle as “Scar Tissue”

                                             Joan Schirle as “Scar Tissue”  SPEC.TRI.0007                                               Dell’ Arte Papers
Accession No. TRI. 2017.0036.001

 

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a female Sam Spade, look no further than the Dell’Arte Players original crime trilogy Redwood Curtain: The Scar Tissue Mysteries. Scar Tissue is the complete embodiment of the hard-boiled detective stereotype. She’s tough as nails with a violent temper that is further fueled by her rampant alcoholism. She’s been described as “neither petty nor sentimental, often a brute and occasionally a jerk” (Scott). Still, Scar has a passion for justice that is unrivaled and a deep love for her hometown of Eureka, California.

Dell’Arte International was founded in Berkeley, California in 1971 by Carlo Mazzone-Clementi and Jane Hill. Their purpose for creating the theatre company was to introduce European movement techniques into American theatre. In 1975, the Dell’Arte School was opened in the Redwood Region of California in Blue Lake. The following year, Joan Schirle and Jon’Paul Cook teamed up with Mazzone and established the Dell’Arte Players Company to write, produce, and perform original works. One of the earliest of these works was Schirle’s short, Bittersweet Blues. This one-act play introduced the character of Scar Tissue (portrayed by Schirle) and led to the Redwood Curtain trilogy of plays covering Scar’s most thrilling cases.

 

Intrigue at Ah-Pah “Scar” and “Deep Trout”

Michael Fields, Donald Forrest, Dell’Arte Players
Intrigue at Ah-Pah

 

“Scar” and “Deep Trout”

Dell’Arte Players
“Scar” (Joan Schirle) and “Deep Trout” (Donald Forrest)

Intrigue at Ah-Pah was first performed in 1979 and serves as the first installment of the trilogy. The mystery takes place on the shores of the Klamath River and incorporates water rights, wildlife depletion, romance, and, of course, murder. Scar must put all of these pieces together to discover the real criminals on the Klamath and her only clue is the dying testimony of a federal agent, “San Jose sucks” (Intrigue at Ah-Pah 2). Along with the drama, the Dell’Arte players are able to mix in plenty of comedic moments with hilarious one-liners from Scar and over-the-top cartoon-styled movements. At one point, Scar even has a hallucinogenic dream of an ancient fish spirit named Deep Trout (Donald Forrest) obsessed with spawning. These crazy moments work well with the issues addressed by the play. The rights of Native Americans are one of the issues regularly addressed in the story. Scar must prove that a young Native American man is innocent of the murder despite the rest of the town accusing him. This quest leads her to discover further injustices that have perpetrated on the Native American community of Humboldt County and forces her to gain an understanding of how their culture has changed in the modern world. The comedic aspects of the play allow the Dell’Arte Players to address and educate people about these problems that were occurring in California at the time (and still are today) without overwhelming the audience with a serious drama.

Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken Poster (Original photo: NickAllen)

The Road Not Taken has a darker tone than Intrigue at Ah-Pah. Originally performed in 1981, the trilogy’s second installment focuses less on the central mystery and more on Scar’s internal struggle. It opens with a disgraced Scar who has lost her private-eye license due to a drug arrest and is now working as a security guard at the local 7-Eleven. The addictions that were only briefly mentioned in Intrigue at Ah-Pah have now taken over Scar; leaving her lost, depressed, and lacking the confidence that she once had. Her career is saved when an old friend requests her help and is able to pull some strings to get her license back, but Scar remains broken. She quickly botches her first stake-out by getting drunk and high, resulting in the death of the woman she was instructed to protect. The case unfolds when Scar discovers that a company has been paying townspeople off so that they can build a road that would destroy the forest. This introduces a new non-environmentalist perspective that was missing in the first play. One of the culprits pleads with Scar at gunpoint not to end the road project because of all the jobs that would be created for the struggling town, stating that “aren’t people more important than trees?” (The Road Not Taken 53). While brief, this moment gets both Scar and the audience to consider what sacrifices need to be made in order to reach a balance in society.

Throughout the play, Scar’s friend Leonard (Donald Forrest), a Vietnam War veteran turned hippie, tries to convince her to break her addiction, but she continuously brushes him off. The climax of the play sees Scar forced to choose between cocaine and catching the culprits of the conspiracy. She does choose to arrest the men, but not before Leonard is shot and killed. Leonard’s life can be seen as a metaphor for what Scar’s addiction has been doing to her. After his death, Scar goes back to search for the cocaine she had stashed earlier. Instead, she finds an American flag and gives up on her search for the drugs to bury it with Leonard, reflecting that “like the forest, they used up the best of him and left him alone to deal with the mess of himself” (The Road Not Taken 55). Scar’s acknowledgment of how the war had destroyed Leonard and her abandonment of the cocaine shows that she has finally decided to stop avoiding her addiction and clean up her life.

 

Set Designs for Fear of Falling 1

Set Design for Fear of Falling (Alain Schons) 1

et Designs for Fear of Falling 2

Set Design for Fear of Falling (Ivan Hess) 2

The trilogy’s third installment, Fear of Falling, was introduced in 1990 presents a brand-new Scar Tissue. In her opening address to the audience she states that she is smoking her last cigarette, and she means it. She puts out the cigarette and then shocks the audience by revealing her new husband and new life soon to follow. Her husband is Hunt Whitney (Michael Fields), a young wealthy socialite with a passion for environmentalism and a kind, if not naïve, heart. Like The Road Not Taken, the final play focuses more on Scar’s character arc than the mystery that she has to solve. Scar intends to close her Eureka office and fully take-on the role of society wife in San Francisco with Hunt, but a run-in with a homeless woman causes her to change her mind. The woman’s name is d.o.g. (Joan Mankin) and she claims to need Scar’s help finding a woman named Mandy. Scar is reluctant to accept, but her yearning not to let go of her old life causes her to change her mind. Scar’s struggle in Fear of Falling is centered on her learning to balance two worlds while also trying to move on with a happier life.

Eureka’s economy has soared for some and fallen for others since the last play. The town has become gentrified with new boutiques lining the roadside and the local day laborers resigned to live on the streets. While the people of Eureka are being displaced, Scar is forced to witness Hunt’s wealthy environmentalist friends give large sums of money to exotic wildlife funds while ignoring the poverty problem in their own backyard. This forces Scar to finally face the question posed in the previous play “aren’t people more important than trees?” (The Road Not Taken 53). Scar’s new marriage is strained by her distrust of the wealthy society people and further disrupted when Hunt’s best friend becomes her prime suspect in the missing person’s case. Despite Hunt’s inability to understand the problems in Eureka, he does love Scar and shows genuine care for making her happy. His loyalty increases Scar’s confusion and guilt as she continues to put her case above their relationship. This guilt eventually drives her to leave San Francisco and permanently move back to Eureka without him. The end of the play sees the mystery of Mandy solved and the local homeless population in a much better position when Hunt rededicates his charity foundation to them. Scar has reopened her office in Eureka and her and Hunt have settled into a happy relationship despite not living together. By the end of the trilogy, Scar is a new woman who has overcome her anger, addiction, and depression and gained a new appreciation of both herself and others.

What is unique about the Dell’Arte Player’s approach to theatre is their emphasis on local culture. The Redwood Curtain trilogy is set in Dell’Arte’s own community with characters and issues that the local population can relate to. Many aspects of Scar’s cases are based on problems that the Redwood Region was facing at the time. Intrigue at Ah-Pah creates a voice for Native Americans who were having their rights taken away as water was being piped from the river to large cities like San Jose and Los Angeles. The case from The Road Not Taken is based on the real-life construction of a highway through the forest. Fear of Falling perhaps takes the closest perspective of the community as it deals with saving humans rather than the environment. At the time, most members of Humboldt County were a part of the lumber and fishing industries. Dell’Arte actor Michael Fields stated that, “I am anti-logging, but for some people in Humboldt County, there’s nothing else they can do” (Santiago). Fields’s view reflects the view of the culprit from The Road Not Taken who pleads with Scar to think about the local economy. She eventually does see this problem when she is confronted with the homeless in Fear of Falling. The final play came at a time when lumber and fishing industries were falling and, Fields says, “a lot of people up there are one pay-check away from the street” (Santiago). In Redwood Curtain, the Dell’Arte Players accomplish a true theatre-of-place by engaging with the lives of their audience and the environment around them.

Redwood Curtain Trilogy Scripts and Notes SPEC.TRI.0007 Accession No. TRI. 2017.0036.001

Redwood Curtain Trilogy Scripts and Notes SPEC.TRI.0007 Accession No. TRI. 2017.0036.001

Redwood Curtain Trilogy Scripts and Notes SPEC.TRI.0007 Accession No. TRI. 2017.0036.001a

Redwood Curtain Trilogy Scripts and Notes SPEC.TRI.0007 Accession No. TRI. 2017.0036.001a

The Theatre Research Institute currently holds a large collection of Dell’Arte materials related to the Redwood Curtain trilogy as well as the company’s other works. Some of the artifacts in this collection include original scripts, set designs, music recordings, photographs, posters, newspaper clippings, and show bills. All three plays are available to read in the collection and have many more angles that can be analyzed for research or just to enjoy as they are all fun, unique, and enthralling reads.

 


Works Cited

Dell’Arte Players. n.d. “Intrigue at Ah-Pah.”

Dell’Arte Players. n.d. “The Road Not Taken.”

Dell’Arte Players. n.d. “Fear of Falling.”

Santiago, Chiori. 1991. “‘Redwood’ Trilogy Rooted in Environmentalism.” San Francisco Chronicle, October 27.

Schirle, Joan. n.d. Dell’Arte International. www.dellarte.com.

Scott, Nancy. 1991. “Endangered is her business.” San Francisco Examiner, October 28.

 


This Has Been:
Discover the artiFACTS!
Scars, Scandals, and Society in the Redwoods
The Dell’Arte Players’ infamous lady detective.
By Emily Brokamp

 

Discover the artiFACTS!

Discover the artiFACTS!

Wild Men of Borneo

The Story of Two Brothers from Ohio

By Emily Brokamp

Waino and Plutano (Hiram and Barney Davis)

Waino and Plutano (Hiram and Barney Davis)

During the last half of the 19th century two brothers captured the eyes of audiences across the United States. Their names were Hiram and Barney Davis and they travelled under the guises of Waino and Plutano, the “Wild Men of Borneo.” Hiram was born in 1825 in England and Barney was born in 1827 in Long Island, New York. Eventually, the Davis family settled on a farm in Mount Vernon, Ohio where Hiram and Barney grew up with their three other siblings. Hiram and Barney were both born with a form of dwarfism and autism that was not apparent in either of their parents or their siblings. When fully mature, the brothers were approximately three-and-a-half feet tall and weighed forty-five pounds. Despite their small stature they began to display great feats of strength from a young age and proved useful in the work of their family. After their father died, however, their mother was left destitute. She remarried a Mr. Porter shortly afterwards, but the family was still left in a dire financial situation. In 1852 a travelling showman by the name of Lyman Warner visited the family and offered to buy Hiram and Barney to exhibit in his travelling shows. Their mother turned down his first offer, but after he returned a second time with a much greater sum she decided to let him take the boys. Reportedly she felt that “if there was that much money for the boys she should let them go.”

Warner changed their names to Waino and Plutano, dubbing them the “Wild Men of Borneo.” At the time, Britain and the Netherlands were fighting for control over the mysterious new island of Borneo. Warner took advantage of this public interest in the island and set it as the backdrop for his elaborate origin story of Waino and Plutano. The two were presented as savages who had been captured in the dark interior forests of Borneo by a Captain Hammond and trained in the ways of civilization for years by Warner before being exhibited to the public.

The veil of mystery, terror, and redemption around Waino and Plutano helped to promote the exhibit tremendously. Lyman Warner died in 1871 and passed ownership of the brothers to his son Hanford. Hanford would take Waino and Plutano’s popularity to a new level by publishing an informational booklet on the brothers in 1878 that could be purchased for a nickel entitled “What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo.” The Theatre Research Institute is in possession of an original copy of this booklet. It immediately opens with a tactic to gain the readers trust. Warner writes that he could make-up a fantastic story about the brothers, but instead will record only the little facts known to him about their time in Borneo. Of course, all of these “facts” are false, but this type of declaration at the beginning of the pamphlet serves as a way to immediately incline the reader to believe more of the story that is to follow.

“What We Know About Waino and Plutano,

Wild Men of Borneo” (c. 1878)

What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo” (c. 1878) cover

What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo” (c. 1878) cover

What We Know About Waino and Plutano first page illustration

What We Know About Waino and Plutano first page illustrati

The story begins with an account of how Capt. Hammond found and captured the brothers in 1848. The brothers immediately displayed their massive strength by fighting off four seamen before being completely captured. Warner continues by stating that though at first they were “rude and restive” eventually after years of patience and kindness “humanity subdued savageism” and the two became “quiet, amiable beings.”
The pamphlet continues by describing their life travelling with Warner across the United States for fairs. It’s stated that each can lift individually “as much as 450 pounds.” It’s also explained that Plutano is more wild and erratic and a story is given of how at one fair Plutano became enraged and ran from the audience. When they finally found him it was apparently reported that they calculated that he must have travelled “at the rate of a mile in five minutes.”

The origin of their names are given as Spanish with Waino signifying good and Plutano signifying bad because Waino was much easier to subdue than Plutano who was “quick tempered and hard to control.” The pamphlet ends with a poem dedicated to Waino and Plutano that relates the tale of their capture and ends with the hopes that, despite their birth in savagery, Waino and Plutano may one day be allowed in Heaven.

What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo. Chapter one.

What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo. Chapter one.

What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo. Pages 14-15.

What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo. Pages 14-15.

This booklet was a popular purchase amongst audiences and greatly increased the widespread success of the exhibit. The exhibit even caught the eye of famous showman P.T. Barnum in 1882 who partnered with Warner to show a few of his own exhibits with the “Wild Men of Borneo” for a number of years. Barnum’s influence caused the success of Waino and Plutano to reach its all-time high with the brothers being valued at $200,000 by 1900 (approximately $5.5 million today).

Hanford Warner retired the pair in 1903 when Hiram became ill after returning from a European tour. Hiram died in 1905 at the age of eighty at the Warner estate in Massachusetts. Barney became incredibly depressed and despondent after his brother’s death, but remained with the Warners until his own death in 1912. Both brothers were buried by their niece, Mrs. Workman, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. She utilized public funerals for the two brothers stating that, “I wanted people to see they were not freaks. Wouldn’t you have done that for them?”

Works Consulted

Bogdan, Robert. 1988. Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Chemers, Michael. 2008. Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Hartzman, Marc. 2005. American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History’s Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers. New York: Penguin Group.

n.d. Hiram and Barney – Wild Men of Borneo. www.thehumanmarvels.com.

Discover the artiFACTS!
Wild Men of Borneo
The Story of Two Brothers from Ohio
By Emily Brokamp

 

SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #4

SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #4

Meet Shannon Savard!

Shannon Savard

Shannon Savard

My name is Shannon Savard, and I am a student in the Master of Arts program in the Department of Theatre at OSU. In one of our first meetings last year while discussing my interests in theatre for social change, feminist and LGBTQ theatres, my adviser, Dr. Beth Kattelman, offered to show me the Reality Theatre collection in the Theatre Research Institute. Since then, I have spent hundreds of hours combing through half a dozen boxes and scrapbooks full of newspaper reviews, playbills, photos, handwritten letters, and posters collected by the members of Columbus’ first theatre company to produce primarily gay and lesbian plays. I have had the opportunity to peruse original scripts of shows that premiered at the Reality Theatre and to meet and interview the founding artistic directors of the company, Frank Barnhart and Dee Shepherd.

Ultimately, this many-months-long adventure through the archives of the TRI has shaped my master’s thesis on Reality Theatre. I plan to examine their 14-year-long series of performances called Tribes, and the company’s role in community building with Columbus’ gay and lesbian population in the 1980s and the 1990s. Beyond having the opportunity to research the history of a theatre company that, up until now, has not been explored in theatre scholarship, I am excited to be able to construct part of their history in a way that contributes to gay and lesbian theatre history at large. The vast majority of currently documented LGBTQ theatre history only focuses on artists and companies who worked in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. One of the major goals of my project is to highlight theatre that has been created by, for, and about the gay and lesbian community outside of the major metropolitan centers where large LGBTQ communities have a long history and established culture. The big questions are: How has theatre impacted the gay and lesbian community here in Columbus? What can we look at beyond mainstream success to evaluate the work that theatre has done with marginalized communities? How does valuing the archived material of a small gay and lesbian theatre company in Ohio change the conversation about whose history counts as theatre history?

If you are interested in getting involved in using TRI special collections as a basis for your research, please contact Dr. Beth Kattelman, Curator of Theatre, kattelman.1@osu.edu.

 

Discover the artiFACTS!

Discover the artiFACTS!

Butterfly McQueen

An Undervalued Star

By Emily Brokamp

 

Butterfly McQueen - An Undervalued Star

Butterfly McQueen – An Undervalued Star

Few can forget the frantic slave-girl, Prissy, in 1939’s Gone With the Wind, but actress Butterfly McQueen sought to prove to the world that she could be more than a scatterbrained maid. Butterfly McQueen (1911-1995) was born as Thelma McQueen in Tampa, Florida. After high school, she began to study nursing, but decided to move into acting after joining the Venezuela Jones Youth Theatre Group in Harlem. She made her stage debut in 1935 as a part of the Butterfly Ballet in an Off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; it is from this role that she adopted her stage name “Butterfly.” Her first role on Broadway was as the maid in George Abbott’s Brown Sugar. The show ran for only four performances, but George Abbott continued casting her in his later plays Brother Rat (1937) and What a Life (1938).

            At first, McQueen was deemed too-old for the part of Prissy in Gone with the Wind, but Producer David O. Selznick ultimately decided that experienced actors would be far better than newcomers. The film was applauded at the time for portraying a realistic picture of black-white relationships in the antebellum South and for making slave roles more complex, however, today these roles in Gone with the Wind are viewed as degrading stereotypes. The intention of the movie at the time also didn’t translate behind-the-scenes as McQueen and the other African-American actors complained of mistreatment on set. McQueen couldn’t even attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind with the rest of the cast because it was held in a white-only theater.

            After her performance as Prissy, McQueen began to be type casted as maids. She soon found her work to be demeaning as she constantly was given roles that created an ugly stereotype of black characters. In Affectionately Yours (1941), her character utters what is considered one of the most demeaning lines said by a black performer in cinema: “Who dat say who dat when you say dat.” McQueen despised these portrayals and the “Uncle Remus” dialect coaching that she was forced to receive with them. Affectionately Yours marked a personal low point in McQueen’s career as she stated, “I never thought I would have to say a line like that. I thought that since I am an intelligent woman, I could play any kind of role.”

            Throughout the 1940s, McQueen continued to play servant roles until her frustration with the stereotypes grew too strong and she began denying such roles, stating “I didn’t mind playing a maid the first time, because I thought that was how you got into the business, but after I did the same thing over and over I resented it. I didn’t mind being funny but I didn’t like being stupid.” McQueen’s outspoken objections, however, began to hinder her career and soon offers began to dry-up. After a while, she moved back to New York to pursue stage acting again, but roles were in low-demand here as well and she began to work a series of jobs as a laundress, sales clerk, etc. in order to make ends meet. In 1968, however, McQueen staged her comeback in the entertainment world as Hattie in the off-Broadway production of Curley McDimple. Curley McDimple is a musical by Robert Dahdah that satirizes different aspects 1930s Hollywood, mainly the Shirley Temple films. The show began its run in 1967, and in May of 1968 Dahdah wrote in the role of Hattie specifically for McQueen to join the cast. Her role in Curley McDimple offered her a great deal of praise. The Theatre Research Institute is in possession of a few artifacts surrounding McQueen’s role in the musical, including letters between her and Edward Joseph Dwyer. In the first letter, dated August 13, ­­­1968, Dwyer praises McQueen for her work in the production. He also excuses his delayed writing by explaining that his mother had a bad fall when he returned home from seeing her play in New York. He continues in a post note that his mother is a huge fan of her performance in Gone with the Wind and would love to receive a letter from her. The handwritten letter sent in return by McQueen thanks him for his kind words and includes a separate letter for his mother stating her get well wishes.

Letter from McQueen to Dwyer 2017 TRI Accessions Box 1 TRI.2017.0031

Letter from McQueen to Dwyer
2017 TRI Accessions Box 1
TRI.2017.0031

 

Letter from Dwyer to McQueen 2017 TRI Accessions Box 1 TRI.2017.0031

Letter from Dwyer to McQueen
2017 TRI Accessions Box 1 TRI.2017.0031

McQueen’s star-power in Curley McDimple can be seen from a poster advertisement for the show in possession of the Theatre Research Institute. In the center of the poster are the names of two stars of the production in large print; one is Bayn Johson, who played the titular role of Curley McDimple, the other is Butterfly McQueen. Despite McQueen’s role being a minor one in the play, the overwhelming praise received from audiences made her one of the highlights of the show.

Poster for Curley McDimple (1968) 2017 TRI Accessions Box 1 TRI.2017.0031

Poster for Curley McDimple (1968)
2017 TRI Accessions Box 1
TRI.2017.0031

After her run in Curley McDimple ended, McQueen decided to go back to school and received a degree in political science from City College of New York in 1975. She continued to receive small roles in the 1970s and 1980s, including one in the original Baltimore production of The Wiz in 1974. When the fiftieth anniversary of Gone with the Wind occurred in 1989, McQueen stepped into the shoes of Prissy again and made public appearances with the rest of the cast. Despite all of the troubles she had with the portrayal of Prissy, she stated that she did not regret the role because it brought her a lot of attention, and in-turn work, in show business and that if she had the opportunity to do it again, she would. On December 22, 1995, Butterfly McQueen died due to injuries sustained from a fire in her home. Reflecting on her death, actress Michelle Wallace stated that “McQueen never got the work nor the credit she deserved.”

Works Cited

 

  1. “Actress Butterfly McQueen is Killed in Fiery Accident.” Los Angeles Times. December 23. http://articles.latimes.com.

Alvarez, Lizette. 1995. “Butterfly McQueen Dies at 84.” The New York Times. December 23. http://www.nytimes.com.

Contemporary Black Biography. 2005. Mcqueen, Butterfly. https://www.encyclopedia.com.

 

Discover the artiFACTS!

Butterfly McQueen

An Undervalued Star

By Emily Brokamp

 

 

 

 

TRI HIGHLIGHTS BLACK HISTORY MONTH

TRI’S TED LANGE COLLECTION

By Diego A.  Arellano

To commemorate Black History Month, the Theatre Research Institute would like to highlight the Ted Lange Collection donated by Ted Lange. 

Ted Lange head shot

Ted Lange

Theodore William “Ted” Lange was born on January 5, 1948 in Oakland California and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Lange is an American actor, director, and screenwriter best known for his role as the bartender, Isaac Washington, in the 1970s TV series The Love Boat. The collection includes papers that document his work in film, television, and stage, including The Love Boat, Othello, and a one man show on Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. There are currently 118 boxes in this ongoing collection that include posters, production files, misc. correspondence and articles, career information, biography, scrapbooks, photographs, and audio visual materials. There are also 27 boxes of scripts. The photos shown here are from the collection as well.

Ted Lange made his Broadway debut in 1968 in the hit musical Hair. His first screen appearance was in the documentary film Wattstax in 1973. After appearing in the film Black Belt Jones in 1974, he portrayed Junior in the series That’s My Mama before landing his most famous role in The Love Boat. During the run of the series, Lange also served as director and screenwriter on various episodes. After the series ended in 1986, Lange appeared in several films and guest roles on 227, The Cleveland Show, Glitch!, Evening Shade, Scrubs, Drake & Josh, The King of Queens, and Psych. In 1977 he wrote the screenplay for the drama Passing Through, starring Cora Lee Day and Marla Gibbs. Lange went on to direct two episodes of The Love Boat: The New Wave, the UPN series based on The Love Boat. He also directed episodes of Moesha, Dharma & Greg, and Eve. Lange has also done extensive amount of theatre work as a playwright, and stage director. He has penned seventeen plays including George Washington’s Boy, a historical drama about the relationship between the first president and his favorite slave, and the comedy Lemon Meringue Façade.

His hard work has won him a number of awards. For his work in theatre directing, Lange received the NAACP’s Renaissance Man Theatre Award, the Heroes and Legends HAL Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Dramalogue Award. Lange has also been the recipient of the James Cagney Directing Fellow Scholarship Award from the American Film Institute along with the Paul Robeson Award from Oakland’s Ensemble Theatre.

Ted Lange Publicity Card

Ted Lange Publicity Card

 

TRI’S TED LANGE COLLECTION

By Diego A.  Arellano

Diego A. Arellano is an undergrad student blogging for TRI.

SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT RESEARCH – #3

Meet John Michael Sefel!

John Michael Sefel Lecturing

John Michael Sefel Lecturing

John Michael Sefel is a second-year PhD student from the department of theatre whose scholarly interests focus on Yiddish Theatre and portrayal/access issues in Disability Theatre. His dissertation research is currently focusing on the portrayal of disability issues (both personal and societal) on the American Yiddish stage, 1888 – 1920.

The recipient of the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Kramer Scholarship, John Michael studied in summer, 2017 at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius Universitat in Lithuania, and has been applying the language acquisition and translation skills he learned there to items within the T.R.I.’s Fraydele Oysher Yiddish Theatre Collection. By bringing expanded historical contextualization to artifacts and translating many of the songs and documents within the collection, the work will provide greater access and depth to the T.R.I.’s Yiddish Theatre holdings to scholars, particularly in the fields of Jewish Studies, Ethnomusicology, Theatre, early-mid 20th century New York immigrant theatre, and Yiddish and Ashkenazic Studies.

If you are interested in getting involved in using TRI special collections as a basis for your research, please contact Dr. Beth Kattelman, Curator of Theatre, kattelman.1@osu.edu

 

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