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This collection contains the records of the Pasadena Playhouse, a community theater established in Pasadena, California, in 1917. Materials consist primarily of theater programs, scrapbooks, business records, correspondence, clippings, scripts, school catalogues, brochures and ephemera, indexes, photographs, original drawings of set and costume designs, and research materials originally housed in the organization's. The materials document the performance history of the various theaters of the Playhouse and also contain partial administrative records and school records, with particular strength in coverage for the "Mainstage" theater and an extensive run of programs and performance photographs. The core records are strengthened by the complementary personal paper collections of directors, performers, and others associated with the Playhouse.
The Pasadena Playhouse produced over 1,600 plays between 1917 and 1969, training and featuring hundreds of leading actors of the twentieth century. At one time the largest community theater west of New York, the Playhouse pioneered a "theatre-in-the-round" staging technique and became a leader in the Little Theatre movement that began prior to World War I. During the organization's "golden years" from the 1920s through the 1940s, it staged hundreds of new plays, including American and world premieres by Eugene O'Neill, William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and Noel Coward, and became known internationally as the only American theater to have performed all of Shakespeare's plays.Playhouse founder and director, actor, and author George Gilmor Brown, known as Gilmor Brown, was born on June 16, 1886, near New Salem, North Dakota to parents Orville Brown and Emma Louise Gilmor Brown. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, where he discovered his love of theater. At the age of eight, Brown founded his first theater company, a troupe of children from his neighborhood named The Tuxedo Stock Company, for which he wrote, staged, and acted in most of the plays. After high school, Brown studied theater in Chicago, joined a touring company, and founded several theater troupes, producing plays in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. In approximately 1914, Brown and his extended family moved to Pasadena.Pasadena Playhouse educator, School and College of Theatre Arts dean, playwright, executive, and board member. Fairfax Proudfit Walkup was born November 17, 1887 in Memphis, Tennessee. She began studies at Vassar College in 1905, but was forced to withdraw to care for her family; in 1922, she returned to her studies, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California and then Master's and Doctoral degrees from the University of Utah, where her studies focused on costume, set design, and theater history. She moved to Pasadena in 1924 and immediately became involved with the Pasadena Community Playhouse as an actress, including in Playbox productions. Walkup also served as a costumer for the Playhouse, and taught courses in costume and fashion, eventually rising to positions including Dean of the Pasadena Playhouse College of Theatre Arts, Vice-President of the Playhouse, and member of the Board of Trustees. Actress, stage director, and teacher Lenore Shanewise was born October 12, 1887 in Denver, Iowa. She studied at the University of Northern Iowa; at Iowa State Teachers College, where she later taught English, elocution, and interpretive reading; and at the University of Chicago, where she studied public speaking and drama and participated in the Dramatic Club; graduated from in 1911. In 1916, spurred by health concerns, she visited California, joining the drama section of the Schubert Club in Los Angeles; after returning to her teaching duties in Iowa and teaching at other colleges, she moved once again to California, in 1921, and remained there for the rest of her professional career. Shanewise began taking courses at the Summer Arts Colony and soon joined the Pasadena Community Players. She became an assistant director at the Pasadena Community Playhouse in 1923 and remained there for four decades, acting in or directing hundreds of productions; giving lectures on community play production and on modern theater; and mentoring actors, including Raymond Burr. In the 1950s and 1960s, she also acted in television productions, including on Burr's show, Perry Mason; NBC's Matinee Theater; and The Twilight Zone. Shanewise retired from the Playhouse in 1967 and died in San Diego on December 22, 1980.
223 Linear Feet (366 boxes, 99 volumes, 6 oversize folders, 7 reels)
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