Category: People (page 1 of 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,


Discover the artiFACTS!

Today we introduce a new column by our Undergraduate Acquisitions Reporter!

Discover the artiFACTS!

“You Ought to See Her Now”

The Female Kings of the Music Hall and Vaudeville.

By Emily Brokamp

Contained in the collections of the Theatre Research Institute are a number of artifacts that give insight into the lives of talented women who achieved fame and fortune as men. These women found success on the British music hall and American vaudeville stages of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as male impersonators. Male impersonation acts were usually comedic performances that would contain undermining satire about men. The most common type of character exemplified in these performances was that of the ‘lover boy’ who would constantly get into trouble seducing young women. This trope can be seen in the work of Florence Tempest ([c.1891] – ?). Tempest was born as Clair Lillian Ijames in Richmond, Virginia. She rose to fame on the vaudeville stage performing alongside her sister Marion Sunshine, born Mary Ijames (1894 – 1963). The “Tempest and Sunshine” act centered on Tempest’s impersonation of a dashing young man and Sunshine’s portrayal of the innocent female love interest. 

Oh You Tease” Published by Harold Rossiter Music Co.

Oh You Tease”
Published by Harold Rossiter Music Co.

Their roles are clearly defined on the cover of their sheet music for the song “Oh You Tease” by Merritt W. Lund. Tempest is photographed holding a white-clad Sunshine in a tight embrace while both look seductively at the camera. The song itself is an appropriate representation of their act as it relates the agony a man feels when a lovely young woman teases his advances.


Tempest introduced the song “You Ought to See Her Now” by Harry Pease, Ed. G. Nelson, and Bob Russak in 1919. The song is a perfect example of the type of satire that male impersonators liked to include in their acts. Tempest is photographed in her ultra-masculine persona on the front of the sheet music for the number. She confidently smokes a cigarette and gives a sly smile to the camera while the image of a beautified women floats above her. The song is a critique from the male point-of-view of the excess amount of makeup and finery that a woman wears. Tempest’s performance of this song while dressed in a male costume can itself be viewed as a mockery of the male judgments proclaimed by the song of women who dress too feminine.

Published by Jack Mills Inc.

“You Ought to See Her Now”
Published by Jack Mills Inc. (1919)
Performing Gender Collection

Dubbed “London’s Pet Boy,” Claire Romaine ([c.1885] – ?) was another versatile performer with numerous different male characters in her repertoire. The cover of her sheet music for “Call ‘Round Any Old Time” shows her portraying a few different characters ranging from a professor to a beggar. Like Tempest’s, Romaine’s act was also comedic and centered around the portrayal of different male stereotypes along with bits of social commentary. “Call ‘Round Any Old Time” tells the story of a rich man and a poor man who meet in the street. The poor man initially thinks that the rich man will stab him, but instead he is invited to his house for dinner and the chorus sings of the value of accepting all kinds of people into your home. The message seems innocent enough, but the song takes on a deeper meaning after considering that Romaine was performing to an Edwardian crowd deeply divided by wealth and status during a period when the working-class of Britain was beginning to gain political power for the first time.

Call Round Any Old Time

Call Round Any Old Time

One of the most famous male impersonators: Miss Vesta Tilley (1864 – 1952)

The most famous of the male impersonators was Miss Vesta Tilley (1864 – 1952). She is considered to be not only the greatest male impersonator, but also one of the greatest performers to come out of the British music halls. Tilley is credited with revolutionizing the practice of male impersonation because she sought to bring a convincing element to her performance and went with a realistic costume to pass off as male as opposed to the earlier effeminate ‘breeches roles.’ Tilley was born as Matilda Alice Powles in Worcestershire, England in 1864. She rose to fame in 1900 with the creation of her song “Burlington Bertie” and the vagrant male character that she based off of it. Like many of her peers, Tilley installed a fair amount of social commentary and satire into her performances that made her immensely popular amongst the working class. She also created a number of popular military personas during the Boer War and World War I that can be seen in the collection of her postcards held by the Theatre Research Institute. She performed these characters for soldier shows and recruitment drives that took her career to its all-time height.

Vesta Tilley in mens'dress

Vesta Tilley in men’s dress

While male impersonators reached a decent level of fame and admiration, the scandal behind their performances did not go unnoticed. These women were performing to Victorian and Edwardian crowds that valued chaste, respectable women. A woman wearing pants and making raunchy jokes on-stage did not fit this ideal, although that was probably why they became so popular. When Vesta Tilley performed at the Royal Command in 1912, Queen Mary was reportedly so repulsed by the prospect of a women dressing as a man that she turned away from the stage during Tilley’s act. Because of this backlash, many male impersonators sought to hold onto their social reputation by underlining their femininity while offstage. Vesta Tilley made sure to always dress in the latest fashion, adorning herself in expensive furs and jewels. Her off-stage look can be observed on a signed photographic postcard held in the Theatre Research Institute’s collection. The postcard shows Tilley wearing a lace dress and fur shawl with an exquisitely adorned hat atop her head. Her facial expression, too, seeks to imitate the feminine ideal as she settles on a dutiful, soft, and solemn look. This is an immense difference from the other postcards held in the collection that show her dressed in suits and uniforms, often smiling and posing in athletic stances. Tilley’s retirement occurred in 1920 when her husband began to pursue politics. Her decision to retire came after reflecting on the fact that it wouldn’t befit a Parliamentary wife to be a male impersonator, regardless of how famous she was in the role.

Vesta Tilley in Women's dress

Vesta Tilley in Women’s dress

More Postcard Images of Vesta Tilley in men’s dress

More of Vesta Tilley in men’s dress

Vesta Tilley in men’s dress

More of Vesta Tilley in men’s dress More of Vesta Tilley in men’s dress More of Vesta Tilley in men’s dress

The male impersonators of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries not only served as the foundation for modern drag king performances, but also as an aid for breaking down social and class barriers. They gave performances that openly mocked the political structures of the time and were an inspiration to women who sought independence in a highly patriarchal society. While many impersonators distanced themselves from their characters in their personal lives, the legacy they left on stage remains and the impact that it has had on gender-bending performances can still be seen today.

Works Cited

Dictionary of Women Worldwide. “Tempest, Florence (c. 1891-?).” 2007. January 2018. <>.

Doyle, J.D. Female and Male Impersonator Sheet Music. 2015. January 2018. <>.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Vesta Tilley.” 1 January 2018. Encyclopedia Britannica. January 2018. <>.

Ferris, Lesley. Crossing the stage: controversies on cross-dressing. London: Routledge, 1993.

Fraser, Megan. “What a Drag!” 17 June 2014. UCLA Libraries. January 2018. <>.

Gardner, Lyn. “Ladies as Gentlemen: The cross-dressing women of Edwardian musical theatre.” 13 May 2010. The Guardian. January 2018. <>.

Gee, Dana. “Male impersonators in early 20th century American sheet music.” 19 February 2016. Houghton Library Blog. January 2018. <>.

Logiudice, Rosie. “Male Impersontors.” 16 February 2014. LGBT History Project. January 2018. <>.

“Male Impersonators all the rage in the music halls.” n.d. Heritage Daily. January 2018. <>.

Reitz Mullenix, Elizabeth. Wearing the breeches: gender on the antebellum stage. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Victoria and Albert Museum. “Vesta Tilley.” 2016. The Victoria and Albert Museum. January 2018. <>.

Discover the artiFACTS!

“You Ought to See Her Now”

The Female Kings of the Music Hall and Vaudeville.

By Emily Brokamp

New Mary P. Key Resident for Cultural Diversity Inquiry

Welcome to Our New Mary P. Key Resident for Cultural Diversity Inquiry

The new year brings the happy addition of Kapil Vasudev to Thompson Library Special Collections as the Mary P. Key Resident for Cultural Diversity Inquiry.  Kapil comes to us from Davidson College in North Carolina where, as a Library Collections Assistant, he facilitated the acquisition, description, and preservation of library collections, including the processing of oral histories of the African American community in North Mecklenburg County. In his previous roles at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, he worked with diverse communities and participated in a system-wide effort to increase cultural inclusivity of library programs.  He was a teaching assistant for North Carolina State University’s Department of History, and earned his MLIS at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Working as part of the Thompson Special Collections team with Rare Books and Manuscripts, the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, and the Hilandar Research Library, Kapil will connect our distinctive collections to curricular opportunities where special collections can enlighten and inspire a deep understanding of diversity. 

OSU Libraries’ two-year Mary P. Key Diversity Residency Program provides professional development and mentorship for a successful transition from academic training to research librarianship, provides hands-on exposure in many areas of the University Libraries, and contributes to advancing diversity initiatives for both the academic librarianship profession and The Ohio State University Libraries.   Before retiring from the Agriculture Library in 1998, Mary P. Key served as the first chair of the Libraries’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which has served an important role in advising our diversity residency program. She was the second African American librarian to head a department at the OSU Libraries.

Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act by Jeff Corey with Emily Corey

Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act by Jeff Corey with Emily Corey. Foreword by Leonard Nimoy. Afterword by Janet Neipris.

Book trailer at:

Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act by Jeff Corey with Emily Corey

Improvising Out Loud

This memoir details the life of Jeff Corey and the acting lessons he gave. His teaching work contributed to the performances of many of the stars that we are very familiar with today.

Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act will be available May 2017 from the University Press of Kentucky.

TRI is the proud holder of the Jeff Corey Collection.

See our catalog record:

Notes below from our catalog record:

Biographical/Historical Note:

Jeff Corey (1914-2002) was a well-known Hollywood actor, teacher and director whose career spanned six decades. He was born on August 10, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York. He began his career in Shakespearean repertory in New York where he first attracted began his career in Shakespearean repertory in New York where he first attracted Leslie Howard. In 1940, he and Hope, his wife of two years, moved to Hollywood, where Corey helped to establish the Actors Lab, under whose aegis he performed in several productions, including Abe Lincoln in Illinois. He also immediately began his film career with a series of bit parts. Corey worked steadily in film and quickly gained recognition as a fine character actor. His film career was interrupted, however, when he joined the Navy in 1943 and was assigned to the ship Yorktown as a combat photographer. During the war he earned citations for his photography work. After his military service, Corey returned to Hollywood to resume a fruitful film career. In 1947 he had a substantial role in Brute Force a prison film starring Burt Lancaster and Hume Cronyn, and in 1949 he had one of his most prestigious film roles as an Army psychiatrist in Stanley Kramer’s Home of the Brave. Corey worked steadily in films until his career was derailed in 1951 when he was summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee after being named as a former Communist Party member by actor Marc Lawrence. During his appearance before the committee, Corey refused to provide names of other possible Communists within the entertainment community. Due to this refusal, Corey was labeled as an “unfriendly witness” and was subsequently blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment; thus he was barred from obtaining work within the entertainment industry. In order to support his family Corey took odd jobs doing carpentry and digging ditches; he also began offering acting lessons from his home. He quickly gained a reputation as the top acting teacher in Hollywood and soon, the same studios that refused to hire Corey as an actor were sending their performers to him for lessons. Students who attended Corey’s acting classes include Jack Nicholson, James Dean, Rita Moreno, Richard Chamberlain, Dean Stockwell, Robert Blake, Sally Kellerman, Roger Corman, Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett and Anthony Perkins. Corey did not appear in film again until 1963 when he played a small part in The Yellow Canary, a film starring singer-actor Pat Boone, the man Corey credited for restarting his film career, because it was at Boone’s insistence that Twentieth-Century Fox hired Corey. Soon, other studios followed suit, and Corey was once again able to maintain a steady film career. It was during this post-blacklist period in which he played some of his most memorable roles including that of the outlaw Tom Chaney in True Grit starring John Wayne, and that of Wild Bill Hickock in Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman. In 1982 Corey fulfilled a lifelong dream when he played King Lear at the North Shore Playhouse in Massachusetts. Corey died on August 16, 2002 at the age of 88 in California

Note:    Arrangement note: The collection is arranged in three series — Series 1: Acting and Directing Career, –Series 2: Acting Classes and Teaching, –Series 3: Papers and Clippings, –Series 4: Audio and Video.

Summary:    The collection includes Corey’s scripts, personal and business correspondence, clippings, programs, photographs, posters, lobby cards, audio tapes and videos. A significant part of the collection is devoted to materials Corey used to teach his acting classes, including script excerpts, notes on acting theory, lesson plans, charts and notes on student progress. There are also extensive papers and clippings related to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) including Corey’s summons to appear before the committee, a copy of Corey’s prepared statement to HUAC (that he was never allowed to deliver), and a transcript of testimony given to HUAC by Rose Hobart, Roman Bohnen, J. Edward Bromberg and Will Lee of the Actors’ Lab on February 17, 1948

Note:    For research use in library only. Some restrictions may apply

Indexes Finding aid is available in the library

Local Note:

Partial filmography: Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) — The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) — My Friend Flicka (1943) — The Killers (1946) — Brute Force (1947) — Miracle on 34th Street (1947) — Joan of Arc (1948) — Home of the Brave (1949) — Superman and the Mole Men (1951) — Lady in a Cage (1963) — The Yellow Canary (1963) — The Balcony (1963) — Cincinnati Kid (1965) — In Cold Blood (1967) — Boston Strangler (1968) — True Grit (1969) — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) — Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) — They Call me Mister Tibbs (1970)

Representative television appearances: Adventures of Superman (1951) — The Untouchables (1961) — Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1965) — Rawhide (1965) — Bonanza (1966, 1971) — Gunsmoke (1969) — Star Trek (1969) — Hawaii-Five-O (1969, 1971) — Night Gallery (1970, 1971) — Little House on the Prairie (1971, 1989) — The Bob Newhart Show (1973) — The Six Million Dollar Man (1975) — Starsky and Hutch (1975) — Kojak (1975) — The Richard Pryor Show (1977) — Barney Miller (1978, 1979) — Lou Grant (1980, 1981, 1982) — Night Court (1984, 1986) — Roseanne (1989) — Babylon 5 (1996) — Murphy Brown (1997)

This collection is the gift of Emily Corey, Eve Corey Poling, and Jane Corey

In Remembrance of Vera Blaine

Vera Blaine, teacher, choreographer, dancer, and department chair, passed away peacefully on December 26, 2016.  A celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, January 15, 2017, 1:00 p.m., at the Department of Dance, Sullivant Hall, 1813 North High Street, Columbus, OH.

Vera Blain - Portrait

Vera Blain – Portrait

By Marissa Ajamian

Vera Blaine, affectionately known as Vickie, had an extremely prolific career in the arts and in the Department of Dance at Ohio State. She received both her BS and MA at The Ohio State University and she returned to the University as a professor of dance. She was also the chairperson of the Department of Dance for twelve years. While she was teaching at the Department of Dance, she changed how composition was being taught by introducing the study of weight. These weight studies that Blaine created continue to be taught in the Department of Dance.

Vera Blaine - Heel Talk

Vera Blaine – Heel Talk

Blaine was born in 1934 in Barberton, OH. In her junior year of high school, Blaine joined the Actors Guild of Variety Artists which allowed her to perform in working class clubs in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. After high school, Blaine wanted to become a professional tap dancer. However, her father felt that Blaine should go to college. This led Blaine to study dance at The Ohio State University.

When she registered for classes, Blaine enrolled in modern dance with Helen Alkire who became one of Blaine’s mentors. While Blaine was a student, Alkire took the dancers to the American Dance Festival. At the festival, Blaine took her first composition course with Louis Horst, composition teacher and musical director for Martha Graham. After receiving her Masters at Ohio State, Blaine moved to New York City to study under Horst at the Martha Graham School of Dance. While in New York, she also studied at the Cunningham studio to learn the Cunningham technique and repertory. Her classmates included Yvonne Rainer and Trisha Brown.

Vera Blaine - Teaching

Vera Blaine – Teaching

In the late 1960s, Blaine was offered a teaching position at Ohio State where she was influenced by the work Lucy Venable and Odette Blum were doing with Labanotation. The Laban effort and space work intrigued Blaine which led her to create her composition class around weight studies. She became the leading choreographer and director of the University Dance Company for 15 years. In 1977 she received the Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1983, Blaine became Chair for the Department of Dance which she remained until 1995. In 1988, she was the first recipient of the Chairperson Recognition Award. In 1996, Blaine received the OhioDance award. In 2005, she became Professor Emerita and taught Composition part-time in the department. In 2006, she received the University’s Distinguished Service Award. Her choreography has been performed by professional dance companies including HARRY, The Bill Evans 2nd Dance Company and the Kinetics Company.

Vera Blaine had a major impact on The Ohio State University’s Department of Dance. She was a mentor for many of the students of the department and helped to shape their ideas on composition. Her weight studies class continues to be used to help students become aware of these weight qualities within their own dancing. Blaine dedicated much of her life to building the Department of Dance and helping to maintain its status as one of the top dance departments in the country.

Marissa Ajamian is an undergraduate in the OSU Department of Dance. This blogpost is excerpted from a major research project she conducted as part of the Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) during summer 2016 on OSU’s Women of Dance. Her research was supervised by Nena Couch and Karen Eliot.

Undergraduate Fellow Studies Historical Film Medium

Undergraduate Fellow Studies Historical Film Medium

By Cecelia Bellomy

When I ask Jayce Fryman, current Special Collections Undergraduate Research Fellow, to see the film for the 9.5 mm projector he is studying, he opens the box with sudden excitement. He unravels a bit of a slender roll of film where I see several successive black-and-white frames of a towheaded boy squinting into the sun stationed in front of a large, gnarled tree. Jayce seems to be easy going by nature, but it is easy to see his passion for the work he is doing.

Jayce Fryman with Baby Pathé Projector

Jayce Fryman with Baby Pathé Projector


Fryman, a rising junior, is studying The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Baby Pathé Projector. The Baby Pathé reads 9.5 mm. film and was one of the first at-home video apparatuses, a French machine which, surprisingly, “encroached” on the American film market. The projector is a new acquisition for the TRI which has found a home in the Magical Lantern and Optical Entertainments Collection.

The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Baby Pathé Projector

The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Baby Pathé Projector


Jayce, a film studies major himself, indulges my ignorance of all things film history with grace: the art of 9.5 millimeter film “didn’t last terribly long,” he says, but it “was popular for a short time” from the mid-twenties to late-thirties before being overtaken by the 8 millimeter format. 9.5 mm. can be distinguished by its central sprocket holes, or holes in the middle of the strip at the bottom of each frame which, according to Jayce, creates a “much better image” than 8 mm. He hopes to get one of the TRI’s two Baby Pathé projectors working while he is studying at the TRI. He tells me a part has been ordered to try to restore the machine.

When I asked Jayce what was the most surprising thing he has learned so far, besides more knowledge of the medium, he reports that the projector was acquired by the TRI from the West End Lyric Theatre in St. Louis, where it was owned by the Skouras brothers, one of whom, Spyros, would become the president of 20th Century Fox. Jayce is clearly a bit awestruck by the history of the objects he is studying.

It is important to Fryman, as an undergraduate, to get “exposure” to research “as early as possible” since he hopes to teach and do research in the future. In the upcoming months, he reports that he will be doing research on the niche genre he calls “horror musical films.” He says he wants to know why some genre mashups are successful and others aren’t. It is a similar drive that pushes Jayce forward in his TRI research. The 9.5 medium had blown over in America by the beginning of the 1940s but survived in Europe into the 1960s, and Jayce hopes to find out why this style of film was so short-lived in the United States.



By Cecelia Bellomy

Ricky J. Martinez signing his copy of his remarks for the TRI. Looking on: Mary Tarantino, OSU Department of Theatre Lighting Designer and Director of the Theatre Research Institute; Deborah Robison; Damon Jaggars

Ricky J. Martinez signing his copy of his remarks for the TRI. Looking on: Mary Tarantino, OSU Department of Theatre Lighting Designer and Director of the Theatre Research Institute; Deborah Robison; Damon Jaggars.

Ricky J. Martinez, Cuban-American playwright, director, and choreographer from Miami, Florida, was awarded this year’s Margo Jones Award during the 30th Anniversary Season at the New Theatre where he serves as Artistic Director. In the program for the Theatre’s most recent production, his original play Roof!, Martinez’s Artistic Director’s note describes this momentous anniversary season as having the theme of “survival of the determined,” featuring five playwrights, including himself, who have “persisted writing—artists believing their work on stage is integral to their growth and the growth of our young city.”

The persistence of Ricky J. Martinez is finally being recognized. He was awarded this year’s Margo Jones Award, presented by The Ohio State University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute. This award honors those who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, and who have encouraged the living theatre everywhere. Martinez was presented with the award at a ceremony which took place at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, the regular performance space for the New Theatre, on April 30th.

The ceremony saw a large turnout of Ricky’s teachers, students, and Miami theatre folk, including many of Ricky’s collaborators from the New Theatre and elsewhere. Speakers included Carol Cadby, a 30-year theatre educator who teaches at George Mason University, Signature Theatre, Synetic Theatre, The D.C. Theatre Lab Conservatory, Arlington Public Schools, and was Martinez’s former teacher; and William “Bill” Schwartz, professional actor and New Theatre favorite. The award was presented by Damon Jaggars, Vice Provost and Director of The Ohio State University Libraries, and members of the Margo Jones Medal committee—Nena Couch, Beth Kattelman, Mary Tarantino, Deborah Robison representing the Jerome Lawrence family, and Jonathan Barlow Lee representing the Robert E. Lee family. Also in attendance were Neila Lee and Jenny Lee.


Martinez and Eileen Suarez, Managing Director of New Theatre

Martinez and Eileen Suarez, Managing Director of New Theatre

An award-winning director, Martinez has been invited to direct for the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival, and Stanford University’s National Center for New Plays; James Madison University and the Forbes Center; Words A-Fire Festival in New Mexico; Ignition Fest at Victory Gardens, and others, in addition to his direction for New Theatre. Martinez’s risk-taking and collaboration with playwrights on more than 50 world premiere plays has proved more than successful. Many of the works have gone on to become Pulitzer Prize finalists and winners and ATCA’s Steinberg finalists and winners, among other prestigious awards, and many of the works have been preserved for the American theatre through publication. Nationally, Martinez has stayed an active champion for new works, participating on the Executive Committee for the National New Play Network (NNPN); the Advisory Board of the Latino Theatre Commons; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) panelist (seven years); Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; National Fund for New Musicals; PlayPenn; and San Antonio’s Luminaria Festival.

As a playwright, Martinez has been mentored by Arthur Kopit and Tina Howe; is an NNPN playwright alumni, and has works being read and produced nationally and internationally. Martinez is an accomplished actor, dancer, choreographer, singer, song writer, musician, community leader and theatre activist. Recently, he has been empowering hometown artists, as well as audiences, with the celebrated Miami 1-Acts Festival that provides a platform for Miami-centric voices of the next generation of theatre makers to be heard. Martinez has worked tirelessly to encourage new and varied voices in the theatre internationally, nationally, and right in his hometown, but has garnered less personal acknowledgement than his work deserves. Perhaps it was New Theatre Board Chair Steve Eisenberg who best stated the significance of the ceremony: “I feel like tonight the universe is more balanced.”


Margo Jones Award Honoree Ricky J. Martinez with members of the Robert E. Lee Family: Neila Lee, Ricky J. Martinez, Jenny Lee, Jonathan Barlow Lee

Margo Jones Award Honoree Ricky J. Martinez with members of the Robert E. Lee Family: Neila Lee, Ricky J. Martinez, Jenny Lee, Jonathan Barlow Lee


The importance of the Margo Jones award was recognized by the Miami Dade County office of the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners proclaiming April 30th, the day of the ceremony, “Ricky J. Martinez Day” in honor of his award and of his work in expanding Miami’s art landscape. This is the first time the Margo Jones Award has been the catalyst for a proclamation, and The Lawrence and Lee Institute is named multiple times in the document: “Whereas: Miami-Dade County is proud to echo the sentiments of the Ohio State University’s Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute as they honor this fine gentleman with this prestigious award.”


Ricky J. Martinez and his mother. Ricky J. is holding the Margo Jones Award medal and the proclamation from the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of Commissioners proclaiming Saturday, April 30, 2016 Ricky J. Martinez Day

Ricky J. Martinez and his mother. Ricky J. is holding the Margo Jones Award medal and the proclamation from the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of Commissioners proclaiming Saturday, April 30, 2016 Ricky J. Martinez Day


Ricky Martinez was “dynamic and gracious and tearful” during the ceremony, and his acceptance speech was exceptionally “moving,” said Beth Kattelman, member of the Medal committee and Curator of Theatre for the Theatre Research Institute. In his speech, Martinez addressed that question that many lovers and makers of theatre are asking today, Is theatre dying?

[making theatre is] very, very dangerous…but so are we…because we are alive…and theatre is made by living people. So the unwritten fact is theatre has never-was never dying! It’s in the moment, as we are; living!

In a world where new theatre faces the constant threat of being swallowed up by newer and more convenient medias, theatre makers with a clarity of vision and persistence like Martinez’ are an invaluable necessity.

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.

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





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.

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