INVENTORY OF THE FIREHOUSE THEATER COMPANY ARCHIVES, 1963-1974

Lola Aguilar
Department of Special Collections
General Library
University of California, Davis
100 North West Quad
Davis, CA 95616-5292
Phone: (530) 752-1621
Fax: (530) 754-5758
Email: speccoll@lib.ucdavis.edu
June 2004 ©2004
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Note


INVENTORY OF THE FIREHOUSE THEATER COMPANY ARCHIVES, 1963-1974

Collection number: D-064

Department of Special Collections

General Library

University of California, Davis

Davis, California

Contact Information:

  • Department of Special Collections
  • General Library
  • 100 North West Quad
  • University of California, Davis
  • Davis, CA 95616-5292
  • Phone: (530) 752-1621
  • Fax: (530) 754-5758
  • Email: speccoll@lib.ucdavis.edu
Processed by:
Lola Aguilar
Encoded by:
Melissa Tyler
Date completed:
June 2004
©2004 The Regents of the University of California

Descriptive Summary

Title: Firehouse Theater Company Archives,
Date (inclusive): 1963-1974
Collection number: D-064
Creator: Firehouse Theater Company
Extent: 4.7 linear feet
Repository: University of California, Davis. General Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
100 North West Quad
Davis, California, 95616-5292
Abstract: In the summer of 1963, University of Minnesota graduate student Marlow S. Hotchkiss, artist James F. Faber, actor John Shimek, and actor and director Charles Morrison III renovated an 1894 fire station in Minneapolis, Minnesota as the Firehouse Theater. The group conceived the theater as a venue for avant-garde drama and as a vehicle for new playwrights in the Twin Cities area. The company relocated to San Francisco in 1969. The Firehouse Theater Company Archives (1963-1974) includes scripts, scores, director's notes, posters, programs, photographic prints, films, workshop notebooks, reviews, correspondence, legal and financial documents, blueprints, and promotional material.
Physical location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access

Collection is open for research under regular Reading Room rules and copyright restrictions.

Publication Rights

Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17 of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Firehouse Theater Company Archives, D-064, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis, California.

Acquisition Information

In 1974, Nancy Walter donated this collection to the Library. Additional material was donated in 1984 by Ms. Walter under her changed name, Norah Holmgren.

Processing Information

Lola Aguilar processed this collection and created its finding aid. Melissa Tyler encoded the finding aid.

History

Administrative History

In the summer of 1963, University of Minnesota graduate student Marlow S. Hotchkiss, artist James F. Faber, actor John Shimek, and actor and director Charles Morrison III renovated an 1894 firestation in Minneapolis, Minnesota as the Firehouse Theater. The group conceived the theater as a venue for avant-garde drama and as a vehicle for new playwrights in the Twin Cities area. The Firehouse Theater Company's first play The Connection by Jack Gelber, opened on August 22, 1963. The evening included a post-play discussion between the audience and the cast and director, which became a regular feature of Firehouse Theater productions.
The Firehouse Theater Company changed direction in 1965 with the departure of Shimek and Morrison. Marlow Hotchkiss, now managing director, brought on Sydney Schubert Walter, a member of the Open Theater in New York, as artistic director. The theater group reincorporated as a non-profit organization and acquired grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hotchkiss and Walter also increased the number of original plays they produced and conducted workshops for the ensemble's personal development.
American playwright Sam Shepard premiered his play Fourteen Hundred Thousand in 1966 at the Firehouse Theater. In the same year, the group also performed Open Theater playwright Megan Terry's new play, Viet Rock. In 1968, the Firehouse Theater Company premiered Terry's new play, Jack-Jack at the Firehouse Theater and in-house playwright Nancy Walter's first play, Rags. In addition to new plays, the Firehouse Theater Company continued presenting plays by Ionesco, Brecht, Beckett, and other Theater of the Absurd playwrights. Audience participation developed as part of the group's experimentation with acting as a shared discovery.
After losing their lease at the old fire station in Minneapolis in 1969, the Firehouse Theater Company relocated to San Francisco, where they opened a theater on California Street at Polk and experimented with communal living. Their first season in San Francisco opened with Blessings on March 20, 1970.
By 1974, many of the original Firehouse Theater group had left to pursue other interests. Sydney Walter returned to school to complete a doctorate in psychology. Marlow Hotchkiss decided to concentrate on films. He also moved out of the commune. Nancy Walter continued writing plays and books. The company's original group of actors also moved on. The Firehouse Theater Company no longer produced experimental works. Instead, they turned towards other styles of theatrical productions.
Sources:
Aronson, Arnold. Avant-garde Theatre: A History. London: Routledge, 2000.
Schechner, Richard. "Six Axioms for Environmental Theatre." In The Drama Review: Thirty Years of Commentary on the Avant-garde, ed. Brooks McNamara and Jill Dolan, 151-171. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1986.
Shank, Theodore. American Alternative Theater. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1982.
Szilassy, Zoltan. American Theatre of the 1960s. Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois Press, 1986.
Walsh, Richard. Radical Theatre in the Sixties and Seventies. Halifax, England: British Association for American Studies, 1993.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Firehouse Theater Company Archives is arranged in three series: 1. Plays, 2. Business Records, and 3. Memorabilia. Items span the years 1963 to 1974. The first series is devoted to plays performed by the Firehouse Theater Company and includes scripts, scores, director's notes, posters, programs, films, photographic prints, and reviews. Scripts and scores primarily relate to Firehouse Theater playwright-in-residence Nancy Walter's plays. Business records include general correspondence, grant proposals and related correspondence, legal documents, financial documents, building records, workshop material, and promotional material. Memorabilia includes a scrapbook and a manuscript.

Related Collections

Other materials related to Firehouse Theater Archives may be found in the following collections at Special Collections:
D-055: Cole, Toby Archives
D-187: Living Theater Archives
D-061: San Francisco Mime Troupe Archives

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Library's online access catalog:

Subjects

Firehouse Theater Company
Faber, James F.
Hotchkiss, Marlow
Morrison, Charles
Shimek, John
Walter, Nancy, 1939-
Walter, Sydney Schubert
American Drama--20th century
Dramatists
Experimental theater
Theater--Political aspects
Theater of the absurd


Collection Contents

 

Series 1. Plays, 1963-1974.

Physical Description: 201 folders

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by play title. Includes posters, programs, photographic prints, reviews, scripts, scores, director's notes, and films.
Box 1:1-4

Acts without Words,1967,1969.

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Box 1:5-7

Antigone,1969.

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Box 1:8-9

Baal,1965.

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Box 1:10-13

The Birthday Party,1967.

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Box 1:14-17, Folio Box 5:1

Blessings,1970, n.d.

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Box 1:18-19

The Brass Butterfly,1963.

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Box 1:20-21

The Brig, 1964.

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Box 1:22-23

The Caretaker, 1963, n.d.

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Box 1:24-26

Carne Man, 1965.

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Box 1:27

The Connection, 1963.

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Box 1:28-29

The Dance of Death, 1964.

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Box 1:30-31

Danton's Death, 1965.

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Box 1:32-33, Folio Box 5:1

Doomeager, 1973.

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Box 1:34-36, Folio Box 5:1

Dreamscapes, 1972-1973.

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Box 1:37-39, Folio Box 5:2

Endgame, 1966, n.d.

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Box 1:40-44, Box 4:1

Escape by Balloon, 1970-1972, n.d.

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Box 1:45-48

Faust, 1969, n.d.

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Box 1:49

A Few Skits and Songs about Things Right and Wrong with the World, the Church, and You, 1964.

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Box 1:50-51

Fourteen Hundred Thousand, 1966.

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Box 1:52

The Future is in Eggs, 1966.

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Box 1:53-54

The Gloaming, Oh My Darling, 1965.

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Box 1:55

Grab and Grace, n.d.

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Box 1:56-58

Happy Days, 1968.

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Box 1:59

A House by the Stable, 1963.

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Box 1:60-62

The Hostage, 1964.

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Box 1:63-64

The Immoralist, 1964.

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Box 1:65-68, Box 4:2, Folio Box 5:3

Iphigenia Transformed, 1966, n.d.

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Box 1:69

It Should Happen to a Dog. 1963.

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Box 1:70-71, Box 4:3, Folio Box 5:4

Jack or the Submission, 1966, n.d.

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Box 1:72-77

Jack-Jack, 1968, n.d.

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Box 1:78-83

Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool, Dry, Place, 1965,1968, n.d.

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Box 1:84-87

Krapp's Last Tape, 1967, n.d.

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Box 1:88

Look Back in Anger, 1964.

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Box 1:89-91, Box 4:4

Lord Halewyn, 1965.

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Box 2:1-4

A Man is a Man, 1968, n.d.

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Box 2:5

The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi, 1965.

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Box 2:6-9

Mortality or the Passion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1967.

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Box 2:10-12

Mysteries, Miracles, and Moralities, 1967.

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Box 2:13-14

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, 1965.

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Box 2:15-17, Folio Box 5:5

Peer Gynt, 1967, n.d.

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Box 2:18-21

The People vs. the Ranchman, 1967, n.d.

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Box 2:22-24

The Play, 1967.

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Box 2:25

Psychedelic Voyage, n.d.

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Box 2:26-33

Rags, 1968-1969, 1971, n.d.

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Box 2:34-35

Red Eye of Love, 1964.

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Box 2:36

Santa Claus, 1963.

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Box 2:37-39

Serjeant Musgrave's Dance, 1965.

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Box 2:40-44

The Sideshow, 1966, n.d.

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Box 2:45-48, Folio Box 5:6

A Song for All Saints, 1966, n.d.

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Box 2:49-52, Folio Box 5:1

Stab and Dance, 1973-1974.

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Box 2:53-56, Box 4:5, Map Case III:Drawer P

Still Falling, 1971.

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Box 2:57

Sweeney Agonistes, 1965.

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Box 2:58-61

The Thing Itself, 1967.

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Box 2:62

The Three Men of Gotham, 1965.

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Box 2:63-66, Folio Box 5:1

Traveling Light, 1972, n.d.

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Box 2:67-71

Trunity, 1968, n.d.

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Box 2:72-74, Box 4:6-7, Folio Box 5:7

Victims of Duty, 1967, n.d.

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Box 2:75-79

Viet Rock, 1966.

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Box 2:80-84

Waiting for Godot, 1966.

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Box 2:85-87, Folio Box 5:8

Where's de Queen, 1966, n.d.

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Box 2:88

The Window, 1972.

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Box 2:89-95, Folio Box 5:1

Woyzeck, 1968, 1971, n.d.

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Series 2.  Business Records, 1963-1974.

Physical Description: 44 folders

Scope and Content Note

Divided into seven subseries: General Correspondence, Grants, Legal Documents, Financial Documents, Building Records, Workshops, and Promotional Material.
Box 3:1

Subseries 2.1.  General Correspondence, 1967-1974, n.d.

Physical Description: 1 folder

Scope and Content Note

Arranged chronologically. Does not contain correspondence relating to grants.
 

Subseries 2.2.  Grants, 1965-1974, n.d.

Physical Description: 4 folders

Scope and Content Note

Includes grant proposals and correspondence relating to grants.
Box 3:2

Grant proposal, n.d.

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Box 3:3

Correspondence, Rockefeller Foundation, 1966-1970.

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Box 3:4-5

Correspondence, National Endowment for the Arts, 1966-1974, n.d.

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Subseries 2.3.  Legal Documents, 1963-1965.

Physical Description: 3 folders

Scope and Content Note

Includes insurance and corporation records with enclosed memoranda.
Box 3:6

Insurance Records, 1963.

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Box 3:7-8

Corporate Records, 1963-1965.

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Subseries 2.4.  Financial Documents, 1963-1972.

Physical Description: 11 folders

Scope and Content Note

Includes ledgers, account books, bank records, and financial statements. Folders 16-19 are restricted. Access through Head of Special Collections.
Box 3:9

General Ledger and General Journal, 1963-1965.

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Box 3:10

Bank Records, 1969-1970.

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Box 3:11

Petty Cash, 1969

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Folio Box 5:9

Firehouse Theater Inc., Cash Receipts and Disbursements Journal, 1963-1966.

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Box 3:12

Operating Expenses, 1967-1968, 1971-1972.

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Box 3:13

Joseph C. Mangin, CPA, Financial Statements, Dec. 31, 1968.

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Box 3:14

Mangin & Brodkorb, CPA, Report on Examination of Financial Statements, Dec. 31, 1967.

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Box 3:15

Mangin & Brodkorb, CPA, Financial and Operating Statements, Dec. 31, 1968.

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Box 3:16-19

Other Financial Documents, 1966-1969.

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[Restricted]
 

Subseries 2.5.  Building Records, 1970-1973, n.d.

Physical Description: 3 folders

Scope and Content Note

Includes blueprints, building permits, and construction and architectural reports for the theater in San Francisco.
Box 3:20

Firehouse Theater-San Francisco, Addendum No. 1 to Osborn Construction Co., Oct. 1970.

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Box 3:21

San Francisco Building Permits, 1971, 1973.

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Map Case III: Drawer P

San Francisco Building Blueprints, 1970-1972, n.d.

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Subseries 2.6.  Workshops, 1969, n.d.

Physical Description: 10 folders

Scope and Content Note

Includes workshop notebooks and one film.
Box 3:22-29

Workshop Books no. 1-8, n.d.

Physical Description: 8 notebooks

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Box 3:30

Workshop Book, Faust, n.d.

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Box 4:8

ESP Workshop on Beach, a film by Marlow Hotchkiss, 1969.

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Subseries 2.7.  Promotional Material, 1963-1973, n.d.

Physical Description: 14 folders

Scope and Content Note

Includes mailers, pamphlets, press releases, articles, one poster, and company photographs.
Box 3:31

Season Ticket Mailer, First Season, Aug. 1963-Jan. 1964.

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Box 3:32

Season Ticket Mailer, Second Season, Feb.-July 1964.

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Box 3:33

Season Ticket Mailer, Third Season, Aug. 1964-Jan. 1965.

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Box 3:34

Season Ticket Mailer, Fourth Season, Feb.-July 1965.

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Box 3:35

Season Ticket Mailer, Fifth Season, Aug. 1965-Jan. 1966.

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Box 3:36

Firehouse Theater, Minneapolis pamphlet, 1968-1969.

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Box 3:37

Firehouse Theater, San Francisco pamphlet, n.d.

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Box 3:38

Firehouse Theater, Press Releases, 1966-1973, n.d.

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Box 3:39-40

Company Photographic Prints and Contact Sheets, 1966-1969.

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Map Case III: Drawer P

Firehouse Theater poster, n.d.

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Box 3:41

Articles, 1967-1972, n.d.

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Box 3:42

"Marlow Hotchkiss-Sydney Walter." Interview by Todd S. J. Lawson and Joan Polzin, Plaintiff, (Fall, 1966): 18-21.

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Series 3.  Memorabilia, 1963-1968, n.d.

Physical Description: 2 items

Scope and Content Note

Includes a scrapbook and a manuscript.
Box 3:43

Donicht, Mark Allen. "A Search for Theater, a Search for Magic, a Search for Truth..." n.d.

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[manuscript]
Legal Size Box 6

Firehouse Theater scrapbook, 1963-1968, n.d.

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