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Alan Schneider Papers
MSS 0103  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions
  • OFF-SITE STORAGE
  • Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Alan Schneider Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0103
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 58.0 Linear feet (99 archives boxes, 7 record cartons, 12 card file boxes, 12 flat boxes, 3 map case folders, and 1 film)
    Date (inclusive): 1937 - 2001
    Abstract: Papers of Alan Schneider, a prominent American theater director who staged the U.S. premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The collection includes Schneider's production files, which contain the director's prompt books with conceptual notes, analysis of theme and characters, and notes on direction; his research files; original writings and manuscripts; play scripts; and correspondence. Correspondence includes letters between Schneider and other actors, writers and directors, including Edward Albee, Robert Anderson, Zelda Fichandler, William Saroyan, and Tennessee Williams. There are no original letters between Schneider and Samuel Beckett in the papers, though the collection includes a small amount of their photocopied correspondence.
    Creator: Schneider, Alan, 1917-1984

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1986-2015.

    Restrictions

    Director's prompt books for Waiting for Godot (1957) and Endgame (1958), and original typescripts by Samuel Beckett in box 74 are restricted for preservation. Photocopies are available as surrogates. Requests to view originals must be approved by the SC&A program director.

    OFF-SITE STORAGE

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: ALLOW ONE WEEK FOR RETRIEVAL OF SOME MATERIALS. Boxes 1-83, 115-118 (SC&A). Boxes 84-114 (Annex).

    Restrictions

    Original sound recordings in the collection are restricted. Researchers may request user copies be produced in advance.

    Preferred Citation

    Alan Schneider Papers, MSS 0103. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Biography

    Alan Schneider was born Abram Leopoldovich Schneider on December 12, 1917, in Kharkov, Russia. When the Russian Revolution spread to Kharkov, the Schneiders immigrated to the United States in 1923. His parents, Leo Victor Schneider and Rebecka Malkin Schneider, were both physicians specializing in tuberculosis. They later practiced together at the Maryland State Tuberculosis Sanitorium in Sabillasville, Maryland. Schneider attended high school in Baltimore and began staging productions at summer camp. Schneider entered Johns Hopkins University and studied physics for one year, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to major in political science and literature. He was an award-winning member of the student debate team and president of the college drama group. In 1939 he was awarded a B.A. degree magna cum laude and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Returning to Baltimore, Schneider worked as a radio announcer and as a speech writer for Postmaster General James A. Farley. He won a fellowship to Cornell University to study drama and received a master's degree in 1941.
    During the period 1941-1952, Schneider taught in the Speech and Theater Department of the Catholic University of America. He directed a wide range of contemporary and classical plays, including JIM DANDY in 1941, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST and THE CHERRY ORCHARD. At Catholic University, Walter Kerr was Schneider's colleague. During the war years, Schneider worked at the U.S. Office of War Information, where he produced a film promoting War Bonds sales, and he also served with the Public Health Service and the Treasury Department. In 1944 Schneider performed in a Broadway production, playing a G.I. in Maxwell Anderson's STORM OPERATION.
    In these years he established the pattern that would continue throughout his directing career: alternating academic productions with commercial assignments. Schneider joined the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., during its formative years in the late 1940s. Working with Zelda Fichandler, he directed such works as THE GLASS MENAGERIE (1951), DESIRE UNDER ELMS (1952) and THE COUNTRY GIRL (1953) at Arena Stage. In 1953 he directed THE REMARKABLE MR. PENNYPACKER on Broadway and ANASTASIA the following year.
    In 1956 Schneider began a lifelong association with Samuel Beckett, directing the first U.S. production of WAITING FOR GODOT at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, starring Bert Lahr. The play was heavily criticized and misunderstood at the time, labeled "atheistic and communistic" by critics. Schneider persevered in bringing Beckett's work to the American public. All subsequent American premieres of Beckett's plays were directed by Schneider.
    Schneider also established a long association with Edward Albee, directing THE AMERICAN DREAM in 1961 and the award-winning WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? in 1963. Schneider also staged Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE, THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE, TINY ALICE, and others. Schneider worked closely with Harold Pinter, directing several of his plays, including THE DUMBWAITER, THE COLLECTION, and THE BIRTHDAY PARTY. As a proponent of innovative theater and new talent, Schneider staged a wide range of dramatic works, including those by Robert Anderson, Bertolt Brecht, Michael Weller and Thornton Wilder.
    In 1964 Schneider directed FILM, a movie written by Beckett and starring Buster Keaton. Beckett visited the U.S. to supervise the production and worked closely with Schneider to create this award-winning film.
    Throughout his career as a director, Schneider was committed to teaching and directing student productions. He served as assistant professor of speech and drama at the Catholic University of America from 1941 to 1952 and as professor of theatre arts at Boston University from 1972 to 1979. Schneider was the director of the Juilliard School Theatre Center from 1975 to 1979. From 1979 until his death in 1984, he was professor of drama and head of the graduate directing department at the University of California, San Diego.
    Schneider received numerous awards during his career as a director. In 1949 he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Grant for the study of European theater. Later, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for the study of open stage and a Ford Foundation Director's Grant for work in regional theater. In 1963 he received the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for his direction of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, the Village Voice Off-Broadway (Obie) Award for directing THE DUMBWAITER and THE COLLECTION and the Washington (D.C.) Board of Trade Award "for outstanding contribution to professional community theater in the nation's capital as production director of Arena Stage."

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Papers of Alan Schneider, a prominent American theater director who staged the U.S. premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The collection includes Schneider's production files, which contain the director's prompt books with conceptual notes, analysis of theme and characters, and notes on direction; his research files; original writings and manuscripts; play scripts; sound recordings; photographs; and correspondence. Correspondence includes letters between Schneider and other actors, writers and directors, including Edward Albee, Robert Anderson, Zelda Fichandler, William Saroyan, and Tennessee Williams. There are no original letters between Schneider and Samuel Beckett in the papers, though the collection includes a small amount of their photocopied correspondence. The collection was processed in four major stages, and is arranged in 29 series.
    Accessions Processed in 1991
    Arranged in ten series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) PRODUCTIONS, 4) SUBJECT FILES, 5) TEACHING, 6) WRITINGS, 7) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 8) PHOTOGRAPHS, 9) SOUND RECORDINGS, and 10) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    Accession Processed in 1997
    Includes Franklin Heller's editorial files related to Alan Schneider's autobiography, Entrances (1986), as well as recordings of conversations between Heller and Schneider, tapes of radio broadcasts about Schneider, and additional biographical material.
    Arranged in four series: 11) CORRESPONDENCE, 12) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 13) MISCELLANEOUS, and 14) AUDIOCASSETTES.
    Accessions Processed in 2003
    Includes material produced after Schneider's death in 1984, such as correspondence by Eugenie Schneider regarding plays dedicated to the memory of her husband, papers on the Beckett Project, Alan Schneider conference materials (1990), and Schneider's autobiography.
    Arranged in eight series: 15) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 16) CORRESPONDENCE, 17) WRITINGS BY SCHNEIDER, 18) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 19) PHOTOGRAPHS, 20) SCRAPBOOKS, 21) AUDIOCASSETTES, and 22) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    Accessions Processed in 2015
    Arranged in seven series: 23) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 24) CORRESPONDENCE, 25) PRODUCTIONS, 26) WRITINGS BY SCHNEIDER, 27) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 28) PHOTOGRAPHS, and 29) AUDIOVISUAL RECORDINGS.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Albee, Edward, 1928- -- Correspondence
    Anderson, Robert, 1917-2009 -- Correspondence
    Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989, En attendant Godot. English. Prompt book
    Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989, Happy days. Prompt book
    Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989, Krapp's last tape. Prompt book
    Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989 -- Correspondence
    Bentley, Eric, 1916- -- Correspondence
    Cronyn, Hume -- Correspondence
    Fichandler, Zelda, 1924- -- Correspondence
    Gielgud, John, 1904-2000 -- Correspondence
    Heller, Franklin -- Correspondence
    Pinter, Harold, 1930-2008
    Saroyan, William, 1908-1981, Jim Dandy. Prompt book
    Saroyan, William, 1908-1981 -- Correspondence
    Schneider, Alan, 1917-1984 -- Archives
    Weller, Michael, 1942-
    Promptbooks
    Theater -- Production and direction -- History
    Theater -- Production and direction -- Study and teaching
    Theatrical producers and directors -- Biography