TRI Digital Collections Put Rare Materials at Our Virtual Fingertips

by Cecelia Bellomy

When a patron visits the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, an entire world of performance history comes alive before them. Everything from set models to celebrity correspondence to classic movie posters are available to be read, studied, and, in most cases, touched.

It may seem like one must be in Ohio to have an experience like this, but the not-so-secret secret is that the TRI, in conjunction with the Ohio State Knowledge Bank, OhioLINK, and, has many incredible collections available for view on the Internet. You can nerd out (or, you know, research) wherever you have a computer!

Digital Collections through the Ohio State Knowledge Bank:

The Knowledge Bank is a service of The Ohio State University Libraries that collects, preserves, and distributes the intellectual output of The Ohio State University. One of the many branches of the University with material in the Knowledge Bank is the Theatre Research Institute. We have three distinct and fascinating collections available for view here.

1. Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance, Photos, Cabinet Cards, and Tobacco Cards

Charles H. McCaghy is a professor emeritus of the Department of Sociology at Bowling Green State University who has published many books and articles on the topics of criminality, deviant behavior, and stripping. The collections materials come from his personal collection of burlesque and striptease research and memorabilia. Part of the much larger collection of exotic dance materials housed at TRI, this digital collection contains over 200 tobacco and cabinet cards from 1867-1890, featuring burlesque stars from the time.

Lydia Thompson cabinet card

Lydia Thompson cabinet card

Cabinet cards are small photographs printed on cards and tobacco cards were tradable photographs which were added to packages of cigarettes to stiffen the packaging. This collection includes photographs of Lydia Thompson who was instrumental in bringing burlesque from England and establishing it in America. Besides giving a look into the under-acknowledged history of burlesque, these photographs show how American beauty standards change with time.

2. Joel E. Rubin Collection, Pose Slides

Joel E. Rubin is a titan in the theatre world for his work in the field of lighting design technology. He co-wrote a seminal book on lighting design, Theatrical Lighting Practice, published in 1954, and he was also co-founder and Past President of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. This digital collection  comprises over 150 pose slides and artwork for the slide design. Pose slides are glass slides on which a design is hand painted.

Joel E. Rubin Pose Slide

Joel E. Rubin Pose Slide

They were used to create a type of tableau vivant (“living picture”) performance that was popular in vaudeville at the beginning of the twentieth century. An actress dressed all in white posed against a white background. Then, when a slide was projected onto her, it appeared as if she was in a costume or in a unique environment. These unique designs come from Kliegl Bros. Lighting, where Rubin worked for many years and eventually became vice president. This collection of unique slides, everything from under-the-sea mermaid scenes to slides that make it look like the actress is being burnt at the stake, provide another window into American popular entertainment at the turn of the century as well as into the history of lighting design.

3. Scrapbook Collections

This digital collection is really two in one as it houses both our and the Actress Scrapbooks and the Burrill Henry Leffingwell Scrapbook Collection . Both collections are replete with information about theatre, dance, and film performance at the turn of the twentieth century. Some famous names (see Sarah Bernhardt) certainly come up. The Actress Scrapbooks collection is a group of twelve small scrapbooks compiled by a theatre fan about actresses of the time. They include photographs of famous actresses (and a few actors)  in costume and daily wear, at home and in productions.  One scrapbook of the twelve is a record of a playgoer’s theatre, opera, and concert experiences starting with The Merchant of Venice at Daly’s Theatre in New York in 1898 starring Ada Rehan as Portia. Of the thirty-four volume Burrill Henry Leffingwell collection, fifteen large scrapbooks archiving American theatre, opera, dance, and film in New York, Boston, Chicago, Paris, and Germany between the years 1880 and 1922 are available digitally. With their thorough compilations of photographs, reviews, and gossip pieces, Leffingwell’s archival work is almost encyclopedic. Best of all?

A screenshot which shows how the scrapbooks can be searched ("demille" at the top corresponds with the highlighted "DeMille" in the scrapbook.)

A screenshot which shows how the scrapbooks can be searched (“demille” at the top corresponds with the highlighted “DeMille” in the scrapbook.)

All of the TRI scrapbooks in the Knowledge Bank have Optical Character Recognition which means, you can perform a word search in any of them, rather than scrolling through hundreds of pages looking for information on one actress or production.


Digital Collections through OhioLINK

The Daphne Dare Collection

OhioLINK’s online Digital Resource Commons, a treasure trove of unique content from Ohio’s Colleges and Universities, is digital home to part of the Lawrence and Lee Institute’s Daphne Dare Collection. Daphne Dare (1929-2000) was a major name in costume design both in America and England. She designed for film (Carla’s Song), television (the first two seasons of Doctor Who), and theatre (Bristol Old Vic, The Royal Shakespeare Company), and became the Head of Design at the Stratford Festival, Ontario, where she designed over thirty-five productions.

SPEC_DD_DES_533_Costume rendering of Anya from The Cherry Orchard

Costume rendering of Anya from The Cherry Orchard

This digital collection of more than 1000 records holds mainly costume designs but also includes notes, production photos, set designs, and publicity materials. The designs cover an extensive range of mostly classical productions with a heavy emphasis on Shakespeare and Chekhov shows. The images show up clearly on the screen and an impressive zooming function allows viewers to see exactly how the lace should look on the hem of the dress, or the pattern the necktie should be.

Digital Collections through Flickr

The Charles H. McCaghy tobacco and cabinet card collection is also available on the photo-sharing website, Flickr. is also available on photo-sharing website, Flickr. This is the TRI’s most highly trafficked digital collection. While scrolling through all of the materials is easier on Flickr, the Knowledge Bank version of the collection has a search engine for pulling up pictures of a particular performer.

While nothing quite beats touching the paper Daphne Dare put her pencil to or smelling the old glue in a scrapbook, the Theatre Research Institute has made great strides in providing alternative ways of interacting with captivating collection materials digitally, and more are coming soon. Regardless of where the interaction is taking place, it is simply important that people do get to interact with them. So the next time the research bug bites or in the upcoming inevitable snow days, why not take the opportunity to experience performance history on your own computer, in your own room, on your own terms?


Sixty Years of “Inherit the Wind”

Celebrating Sixty Years of Inherit the Wind

By Cecelia Bellomy

Inherit the Wind

Inherit the Wind

On the sixtieth anniversary of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s seminal play Inherit the Wind, the Theatre Research Institute celebrates an incisive work of drama that is just as relevant as ever.

As recently as 1992, there was a performance of the play somewhere in the world almost every day. Translated into over thirty-five languages, Lawrence and Lee, the former an OSU alum and both Ohio-natives, have made an international impact.

But what is so transcendent about the play? It is based on the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial in which a young Tennessee school teacher was charged and found guilty under state law for teaching evolution to his students. William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, two of the most popular American figures of the time, came to the tiny town of Dayton to battle the issue as opposing attorneys. Bryan, a three-time presidential candidate and renowned orator, represented Fundamentalist Christians in supporting the state law against the teaching of evolution while Darrow, an atheist and criminal attorney, famous for succeeding at such difficult cases as that of Leopold and Loeb, defended John Scopes and the teachings of Charles Darwin. The trial, which resulted in the conviction of Scopes, though with a much-reduced sentence, grew to enormous proportions in American culture. This was no mere court case, this was a battle of ideas, and those deeply held. On one side, Christians feared the loss of their faith to science, and on the other scientists feared the impediment of progress and knowledge due to religious beliefs. It was the first ever court case to have its sentencing broadcast live over the radio. It is clear to see why Lawrence and Lee were drawn to the Scopes Trial—it has at its center an explosive conflict, a dilemma with gigantic stakes for each side, represented no less by Bryan and Darrow, the larger-than-life figureheads for each team.

Lawrence and Lee turn William Jennings Bryan into Matthew Harrison Brady, a big-eating man with an even larger appetite to hear his own voice. He is motivated to do what he believes is sincerely right, but he is even more motivated to be adored by the American people. Darrow becomes Henry Drummond, an agnostic wit with a passion for individuality and human integrity. They set the play in the fictional small town of Hillsboro, USA, and add a former friendship between Brady and Drummond and a romance between teacher of evolution, Bertram Cates (analogous to John Scopes), and the local minister’s daughter, Rachel.

Inherit the Wind is not history, but a drama taken loosely from the pages of American history. In an article from The Columbus Dispatch in 1990, when Ohio State staged a performance of the play for Jerome Lawrence’s seventy-fifth birthday, Lawrence said, “This play is not about science vs. religion…It’s about everybody’s right to learn and teach without censorship.” This is the truly transcendent quality of the work—its universal theme of the human right to express one’s self and think freely.

The play premiered in Dallas in January, 1955 under the auspices of Margo Jones. Before Jones’ interest, no Broadway theatres were interested in the piece because it was too risky, but by April, ’55, the play was running at the National Theatre on Broadway with the same cast. Paul Muni (Scarface) originated the role of Henry Drummond, Ed Begley (Sweet Bird of Youth) played Matthew Brady for which he won the Tony for Featured Actor in Play, and Tony Randall played E.K. Hornbeck, the cynical journalist based on H.L. Mencken. It played until June, 1957 and had over 800 performances which set a record at the time for the longest-running straight play on Broadway. It has been revived twice since in 1996 and 2007, and there have been four separate screen adaptations featuring such actors as Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, and Jack Lemmon.

The play’s idea “is so current because everybody wants to stand up and say: ‘I have a right to think and believe as I choose’…Censorship is the real obscenity,” Lawrence tells the Dispatch. Truly in a world of battling ideologies and burgeoning human rights movements, now more than ever, we want to determine what we believe as individuals. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s Inherit the Wind has the power to spark that desire.

At the end of the play, Henry Drummond, alone in the courtroom, the day done, the verdict announced, balances a copy of Darwin’s Theory of the Evolution and The Descent of Man in one hand and a copy of the Bible in the other, slaps them together, puts them both in his briefcase “side by side,” and leaves. For Lawrence and Lee it is not about what you believe, but about having the freedom to determine those beliefs for one’s self.

Cited source: Grossberg, Michael. “Jerome Lawrence, OSU Celebrate with ‘Inherit the Wind'” The Columbus Dispatch 4 Nov. 1990: n. pag. Print.


Kim Turney, left, a master of fine arts degree candidate who is Rachel in Ohio State's November 17, 1990, anniversary production, gets advice from Frances Helm, who played the part on Broadway.  Newsphoto by Kevin Fitzsimons, from onCampus (11/15/1990)

Kim Turney, left, a master of fine arts degree candidate who is Rachel in Ohio State’s November 17, 1990, anniversary production, gets advice from Frances Helm, who played the part on Broadway.
Newsphoto by Kevin Fitzsimons, from onCampus (11/15/1990)





By Cece Bellomy

Darnelle Melvin

Darnelle Melvin

Darnelle Melvin’s interest in preservation started with a roll of analog tape. Now he finds himself as Ohio State’s Metadata Transformation Librarian. I sat down with him to talk about his journey and the importance of preservation.

Vibrant ambient music pulsates from Darnelle’s computer when I come into his office for the interview. He turns it down as he talks to me, but the beat plays low throughout. This is definitely my first interview with its own soundscape. His inclination towards sound is explained when he tells me about his former work as an audio engineer. During this time, he was involved in numerous productions and projects, including live and studio recording, audio preservation, mastering, and radio production projects for Melvin Audioworks. Sound and, as an extension, its preservation is very important to him.

It was during his preparation to digitize his 2 inch and ¼ inch analog tape collection that Darnelle noticed that some of his analog tape was damaged by sticky-shed syndrome (another name for hydrolysis, he explains to me, it’s a condition created by the deterioration of the binders in a magnetic tape, which hold the iron oxide magnetizable coating to its plastic carrier), and his interest in preservation was born. When the opportunity presented itself, Melvin went back to school and received his Master of Library and Information Science from San José State University. While in graduate school his interest of audiovisual preservation expanded to include cataloging, classification and metadata inoperability. Now, moving all the way from San Diego California, he joins OSU Libraries Special Collections Description and Access to do just that.

Metadata is, as the word itself may give away, data about data. Basic examples of metadata would be the author and publishing information in the front few pages of a book. As OSU’s first Metadata Transformation Librarian, one of Darnelle’s projects will be migrating descriptive metadata (metadata that describes items from Special Collections’ Archives) from many databases into one centralized system.

Before I even got to ask Darnelle my question about the importance of archival preservation, he answered it for me. A self-proclaimed history buff and nerd, Darnelle is a firm believer in preserving historical records not only for their historical value, but also for their importance to the environment of a research university like Ohio State. The future of Special Collections metadata is certainly in good hands with Darnelle Melvin.

Costume Designers and Costume Makers: A Case Study in Collaboration

Theatre Research Institute Fellowship Lecture

Costume Designers and Costume Makers: A Case Study in Collaboration

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 – 4 p.m.

Room 2068

Drake Performance and Event Center

Bobbi Owen, Theatre Research Institute Fellowship Lecturer

Theatre Research Institute Fellowship Lecturer, Bobbi Owen

Part of the “magic” of the theatre” has to do with keeping some elements hidden,

but I would argue that the people who make that magic occur and their professions should be more visible.

Bobbi Owen, the Michael R. McVaugh Distinguished Professor of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a professional costume designer who has worked with several theatres across the country. She also has written extensively on theatrical design and is the author of a monograph on costume designer Willa Kim. [The Designs of Willa Kim. New York: USITT in cooperation with Broadway Press, 2005.] In 2008 she was inducted as a Fellow to the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).



TRI Fellow, Bobbi Owen Interview

Bobbi Owen Interview

by Cece Bellomy

“I’m having a fabulous time,” said Bobbi Owen, smiling during our interview in the Special Collections Reading Room. My question? “What do you find most enjoyable about the research process?” There are stacks of folders on her table and a smile on her face.

Owen is the current Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute Fellow for the month of September, Michael R. McVaugh Distinguished Professor of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an all-around busy woman. She is a costume designer, a professor, and a researcher. She has published seven books and is currently working on two more. Despite her busyness, Owen is more than happy to answer all my questions, even going so far as to ask me about my own theatrical aspirations after our interview is over.

The first question I ask her is to go more in-depth about her research here at the TRI. A recent interest of Owen’s is “how it is designers achieve what it is they set out to design.” This has evolved into a narrower focus on the collaborative relationship between costume designers and “costume makers.” Rarely ever do designers on the mainstream level give their artisans exact descriptions of the way costumes should be made, leaving a fair amount of creative wiggle room for the makers. It is this complex relationship between the visions of the designer and craftsmen that will be the subject of Owen’s book. She tells me about a presentation she heard recently where it was argued that “a costume maker should have co-authorship credit with a costume designer.” Does she agree? “In the case they were talking about,” yes.

Owen’s work has brought her to the TRI for our extensive costume design collections. So far, she has viewed the Helene Pons Collection and the Daphne Dare Papers. When I asked her what collections materials she has been most excited to work with, she was unable to choose. She has enjoyed going folder-by-folder through the Helene Pons Collection, attempting to re-create the career of the designer famous for costuming Our Town and The Diary of Anne Frank, noting how much she enjoyed “read[ing] between the lines” of the materials. She has found the Dare Papers “equally stimulating but for very different reasons.” Dare designed costumes for the first eighty-seven episodes of Doctor Who, and the majority of her collection is a visual record of her career, which Owen has found “beautiful.” Owen also looks forward to viewing the Carrie Robbins Collection before leaving.

The culmination of this research will be a book of three case studies in which this designer/maker relationship can be explored. The first of the three cases will be Percy Anderson, the costume designer of many of the original Gilbert and Sullivan operas, who Owen studied at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin and whose design house was born from a soldier’s uniform company that went out of business at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The second will possibly be Helene Pons, who was a high-profile maker before she was a high-profile designer. The third is to be determined, but will likely be a contemporary designer working in New York.

“If I had lived in the nineteenth century, I would have been one of those dressmakers who went to some rich person’s house and lived there for six months and made them their wardrobe,” Owen said when I asked her if there was an aesthetic running through her own design work. She most enjoys the period between 1890 and 1912 and has a self-proclaimed “light touch” when it comes to her designs. Owen, like any great designer, has an incredible love for detail which she also applies to her research, making detailed lists and sitting down with her notes at the end of each evening, distilling what she has learned that day.

Up next, Bobbi is spending part of October in New York with Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long (The Producers, Hairspray, Cinderella) about whom she is writing another book. Then it’s off to the West Coast for November and Abu Dhabi after that until she returns to Chapel Hill in January for another semester of teaching. We’re lucky to have her for these few weeks.

Collaboration is of the utmost importance to Bobbi Owen. “Nobody does anything alone,” she says at the outset of the interview. And the way her face lit up talking about her findings in the TRI represents still another collaboration—that between the researcher and the archivist. Without passionate individuals like Bobbi Owen, our materials would collect dust.

Bobbi Owen will give a talk on the collaborative relationship between costumer designers and costume makers at the Drake Performance and Event Center, Room 2038, on Wednesday, September 23rd from 4-5:30.

Dr. Simona Rybáková Delivers TRI Lecture

Dr. Simona Rybáková Delivers TRI Lecture

Dr. Simona Rybáková Delivers TRI Lecture

Dr. Simona Rybáková Delivers TRI Lecture

This year’s annual TRI lecture was given by Czech theatre artist Dr. Simon Rybáková on Wednesday, September 9th at the Roy Bowen Theatre in the Drake Performance and Event Center at Ohio State. Rybáková is a textile and costume designer who is currently part of a team working on the Theatre Department’s Responsibility, Morality, and the Costs of War symposium. She is leading the creation of a performance/installation that will be part of the event. (For information on the symposium visit

Rybáková’s lecture drew a large audience from across Ohio State and the Columbus arts community. As part of her presentation she shared numerous images of costumes she has created throughout her career, focusing in particular on examples of “extreme costumes” created out of materials not always associated with the art of costume design and construction.

Rybáková studied at the College of Applied Art and Design, and then pursued her schooling at Studio of Textile Design of the Academy of Art and Design in Prague. In 1990, she spent six months as a visiting graduate student of textile design at the University of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, Finland. In 1995, she won the Swarowski Award (graduate study at the Rhode Island School of Design at Providence, R. I., USA). Between 1997 and 2009, she was the Czech Republic’s representative on the executive board of the International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Artists and Technicians (OISTAT), and since 1997 she has been a member of the same organization’s commission on stage design. In 2007, she became a member of the European Film Academy. At the Prague Quadrennial 2011, she curated the international exhibition Extreme Costume. Apart from costume design and individual textile design, she has been involved in the media of designer textile prints and carpets, jewelry, sculpture, and drawing.

The TRI Lecture Series is sponsored by the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute and The Ohio State University Department of Theatre

Congratulations to Our New TRI Fellows

Congratulations to TRI Fellows: Bobbi Owen, Teresa Heiland, R. J. David Frego, and Marketa Fantova

Bobbi Owen, the Michael R. McVaugh Distinguished Professor of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has accepted the TRI Research Fellowship for 2015-2016. Bobbi is a professional costume designer who has worked with several theatres across the country. She also has written extensively on theatrical design and is the author of a monograph on costume designer Willa Kim. [The Designs of Willa Kim. New York: USITT in cooperation with Broadway Press, 2005.] In 2008 she was inducted as a Fellow to the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). Bobbi plans to investigate the process of collaboration between costume designers and costume makers. As part of her investigation, she will be doing research in the Carrie Robbins Collection, the Helene Pons Collection, and the Daphne Dare Papers. She will be in residence throughout the month of September, 2015.

Bobbi Owen, Newest TRI Fellow

Newest TRI Fellow

Bobbi has already begun her residency and we wish her all the best.

Teresa Heiland, Associate Professor of Dance in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance at Loyola Marymount University, has accepted the Dance Notation Bureau Collection Fellowship for 2015-2016.  In her teaching, Teresa focuses on Laban Movement Analysis, pedagogy, and dancer wellness.  She received her PhD from NYU, and her dissertation was Intertwining Choreography and Writing Workshop Methods in a Dance Class: Qualitative Action Research of Teacher and Student Experiences.  She is a Certified Laban Bartenieff Movement Analyst and a Language of Dance Specialist. She has also recently completed the Labanotation Teacher Certification Course. Teresa will be doing research in the Dance Notation Bureau Collection to explore the evolution of pedagogical philosophies and the tenets of those who have used Rudolf Laban’s work as a teaching and learning tool with notation in dance education.  She will be in fellowship residence in April, 2016.

J. David Frego, Roland K. Blumberg Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has accepted the Irwin and Jane Spector Fellowship for 2015-2016. David received the PhD from Florida State University and the Certificate and License in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from Carnegie Mellon University. He publishes widely and presents and teaches around the world on Dalcroze Eurhythmics. David will be exploring the rich Dalcroze resources at the Institute as demonstrated in the posters created by Hilda Schuster for use in her New York dance studio where many hundreds of children and adults studied. The recent Dalcroze Journal, devoted to memories of Dr. Shuster and her promotion of Eurhythmics in the United States, referred to the posters in her studio. He will be in fellowship residence in May, 2016.

Marketa Fantova, professional designer and Head of Design for Performance at Rowan University, has accepted the Grayce and Jarka Burian Fellowship for 2015-2016.  Marketa received her BFA from DAMU, the famed theatre academy in Prague, Czech Republic, where she studied with internationally known scenographers. She went on to earn her MFA from Wayne State University. She has designed productions in Prague, New York, Texas, and New Jersey, is the USITT Vice President for International Activities, and just completed her work as Artistic Director of USITT-USA National Exhibit for the 2015 Prague Quadrennial. Marketa will be doing research in the Jarka Burian Collection on the work of the great Czech director Jiri Frejka and the turbulent post-war years during the 1950s in Communist Czechoslovakia.  She will be in fellowship residence in June, 2016.




Here at the Theatre Research Institute we are always busy acquiring new items and collections to support the research of our students, faculty and worldwide visitors. Some of the treasures we have acquired are currently on display in the Thompson Library Special Collections display area.


New TRI Acquisitions Display

New TRI Acquisitions Display

Below is a list of the included items:


[Stratford-upon-Avon] [n.d., c. 1800]. British Theatre Collection.

Fragment of wood from Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree, bearing the seal of John Doubleday and inscribed with a note by Doubleday: “A fragment of the Mulberry Tree planted by Wm. Shakespeare at Stratford upon Avon, given me by the Revd. Thos. Rackett, one of the executors, for the famous 18-century actor David Garrick.” John Doubleday (circa 1799-1856), was a dealer in casts of coins, and an object restorer for the British Museum.


1868. Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs.

Lydia Thompson [a.k.a. Eliza Hodges Thompson] (1838-1908) was born in London, where she became a popular actress, dancer and theatrical producer. In 1868 she came to America with a burlesque troupe called the “British Blondes.” The troupe was a hit in New York and then went on an extremely popular national tour lasting almost six years. Thompson returned to England in 1874, but came back to perform in the United States several more times before her death.


1935-36. Cole Porter’s Jubilee Collection.

Jubilee is a musical comedy with a book by Moss Hart and music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It premiered on Broadway in October 1935 to great reviews. Several of its songs became popular, including “Begin the Beguine” and “Just One of Those Things.”


Jubilee Photos

Jubilee Photos


various dates. Ralph MacPhail, Jr., Howdy Doody Collection.

The Howdy Doody Show is a program that was telecast on the NBC network in the United States from 1947 until 1960. The show featured Howdy Doody (a red-haired, freckled marionette) and several other recurring puppet and human characters. It was a groundbreaking children’s television show that combined educational content with entertainment. It was also one of the first programs to use extensive merchandising and branding on a wide variety of products.


1940. Martha Scott Collection.

Actress Martha Scott (1912 – 2003) had a career that spanned more than fifty years. She originated the role of Emily Webb in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town on Broadway in 1938 and played the role in the 1940 film version. She was also featured in several other major films including The Ten Commandments, and Ben-Hur. From 1979 to 1985 she had a continuing role on the popular television series Dallas. Scott also co-produced the stage and film versions of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s First Monday in October.


mid-20th century. Jesse and Rochelle Shereff Gilbert and Sullivan Collection

This “toby jug” depicts the character of the Major General from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. A set of fourteen jugs was created by Shorter & Sons, Ltd. based on the characters from The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s productions. The designs depict the actual costumes worn by the actors, with each posing in the best possible stance to portray their character.


1981. Film Promotions Collection.

Butterfly McQueen (1911-1995) was an actress who appeared in numerous films and television series throughout the mid-20th century.

She is most well-known for her portrayal of Prissy in Gone With the Wind (1939). In addition to signing the front of this photo, Ms. McQueen also wrote an inscription on the back: “To whom it may concern: This is a publicity photo of Prissy; she is never so “happy” in “G.W.T.W.” Butterfly McQueen 2/81.


Jerome Lawrence’s Big 100: A Celebration of the Individual

Jerome Lawrence portrait

Jerome Lawrence’s Big 100: A Celebration of the Individual

by Cecelia Bellomy

In an interview with Jerome Lawrence and long-time writing partner Robert E. Lee, conducted by head of Thompson Library Special Collections, Nena Couch, Lawrence quotes a line from John Donne’s famous poem, “No Man Is an Island.” “I am involved in mankind,” Lawrence recites, and it is clear from the legacy he has left behind on the 100th anniversary of his birth, that this author’s involvement with humanity has left an indelible stamp on the stage, screen, airwaves, and most importantly, the hearts and minds of multiple generations of theatregoers.

Jerome Lawrence “always wanted to be a writer,” as he confesses in the same interview for Studies in American Drama (Couch). Born Jerome Lawrence Schwartz, he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. His father Samuel owned a printing press, his mother Sarah wrote poetry, and his sister Naomi was an actress. Based on their occupations alone, it is easy to see that Lawrence’s upbringing encouraged creative and intellectual expression.

He received a bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University in 1937. While attending OSU, Lawrence was involved in many theatrical productions as an actor. He was also a writer for the student newspaper and the student radio station. He even published his first play during his undergraduate career: Laugh, God!, published in the timely Six Anti-Nazi One Act Plays (1939).

After graduating, Lawrence worked as the director of summer stock for multiple theatre companies, a reporter, and editor for multiple small-town newspapers and one radio station. It wasn’t until after earning a graduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, that Lawrence really began breaking into the writing world. He began working in New York and Los Angeles, writing for CBS and Paramount.

Though Lawrence and Lee were born and educated approximately thirty miles apart (Lee was born in Elyria, Ohio and attended Ohio Wesleyan University), and their similar careers writing for the radio brought them both to New York, the two men didn’t meet until January, 1942. Their partnership was immediate. They collaborated on several radio plays, the first of which, “Inside a Kid’s Head,” aired on the experimental Columbia Workshop. Lawrence and his partner Lee’s burgeoning writing careers were put on hold, however, as the partners turned their focus toward the War effort.

Lawrence and Lee became Expert Consultants to the Secretary of War during World War II and co-founded the Armed Forces Radio Service for which Lawrence was a correspondent in North Africa and Italy. Additionally, Lawrence and Lee wrote and directed official Army-Navy programs for D-Day, VE Day, and VJ Day.

After a few halting post-war years, the collaboration between Lawrence and Lee began to truly soar. The musical Look Ma, I’m Dancin’!, for which the duo wrote the book, opened in 1948 with good reception. Lawrence and Lee also continued collaborating regularly for the radio, writing “299 broadcasts of notable musical theatre works for the weekly series, The Railroad Hour” (Woods xiii). And that is just one program for which the pair wrote during this time.

It was during the next several years in which Lawrence, with Lee, wrote the plays and musicals for which he is still remembered today. The partners showed a true knack for versatility from the light-hearted comedy musical Mame (1966) to the serious, topical, straight drama, Inherit the Wind (1955), which used the famous Scopes Monkey Trial to address the individual’s right to think freely. Other famous plays and musicals written by the duo include Shangri-La (1956), The Gang’s All Here (1959), and First Monday in October (1975).

On their writing technique, the duo claimed they oftentimes could not remember who wrote what. They also employed a “UN veto” in which either had the power to veto a creative idea but only if the dissenter could come up with a better replacement.

Despite their critical success on Broadway, Lawrence and Lee co-founded the American Playwrights Theatre, based in Columbus, Ohio, to attempt to bypass the ever-more stringent rules and regulations of Broadway. By connecting new scripts by new writers to theatres outside New York, the APT was instrumental in the regional theatre movement of the second half of the twentieth century. Lawrence and Lee’s Vietnam War-commentary, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail (1970), made its debut through APT.

In 1972, Lawrence and Lee wrote a play on the life of Columbus playwright and humorist James Thurber. Jabberwock: Improbabilities Lived and Imagined by James Thurber in the Fictional City of Columbus, Ohio premiered at the opening of the Thurber Theatre at Ohio State. The duo also founded the Margo Jones Award, now administered by OSU Libraries’ Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, to honor citizens-of-the-theatre who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre.

Though Jerome Lawrence is most known for his work with Robert E. Lee, he did some solo work throughout his career, including the play Live Spelled Backwards (1966) and the book Actor: The Life and Times of Paul Muni (1975).

Always interested in expanding theatre education for young people, Lawrence taught at universities across the country, including the University of Southern California. Lawrence passed away at the age of 88 on February 29th, 2004 from complications of a stroke.

Through his life, with the help of Lee, Jerome Lawrence encouraged people to think. Though his body of work is diverse in tone and content, one string stretches throughout—the power and importance of the individual. Throughout Lawrence’s life, from his upbringing in a creative home, to his commitment to expression during World War II, to his varied and provocative playwriting career, he has championed and proven the importance of individual expression for the person and their larger society. With his passing, the world lost a true individual, but on his 100th birthday, we celebrate the legacy he left behind in his work.


Works Cited

Couch, Nena. “An Interview with Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.”Studies in American Drama 7.1 (1992): 3-18. Web.

Woods, Alan. “General Introduction.” The Selected Plays of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Ed. Alan Woods. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1995. Ix-Xxiii. Print.


Congratulations to Dr. Beth Kattelman





Dr. Beth Kattelman to receive award 7/9/2015

Dr. Beth Kattelman to receive award 7/9/2015

Annual Research Excellence Award Announced

The Committee for Faculty Benefits, Research, and Responsibilities is pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the Annual Research Excellence Award. Congratulations to Beth Kattelman on her 2014 book chapter and article called “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?: American Ghost Shows of the Twentieth Century.” published in Theatre and Ghosts: Materiality, Performance and Modernity.

Invitation to Award Ceremony


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