Angels in the American Theater
Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Southern Illinois University Press
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Title Page, Other Books, Copyright, Dedication
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From first proposal to publication, working with Southern Illinois University Press has been a joy. Both Karl Kageff, editor in chief, and Kristine Priddy, assistant sponsoring editor, have been patient, gracious, and committed to this project. Wayne Larsen, project editor, has been I owe an enormous debt to the authors who contributed chapters for ...
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We often hear that “money talks.” Angels—theater investors and back-ers with money—have a tremendous impact on what happens on stage.1 Indeed, they make it all possible. Since box-office income usually pays for only about half of a production’s cost, other sources of income must become a vital part of the process. With the power and influence of their ...
Part One: Individual Angels
1. Modern Cosmopolitan
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A millionaire many times over and one of America’s leading financiers, Otto H. Kahn (1867–1934) was no ordinary theater patron. He is impos-sible for theater people to overlook because, from the early twentieth century until the onset of the Great Depression, Kahn’s wallet and wisdom seemed available for every art theater in New York, every major theatrical ...
2. Copper Heiresses Take the Stage
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Alice and Irene Lewisohn occupy an unusual place in the history of American theater—they were at the forefront of artistic experimentation during the Little Theatre Movement, knowledgeable about the European avant-garde and several Asian performance styles, and they had the capital to fund their own experiments. The Lewisohn sisters built the Neighbor-...
3. Wheedled, Bullied, or Cajoled
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It must be remembered that in 1926 there was no cultural explosion. There were no foundations, great or small, set up to help the arts. . . . Before the Great Depression, rich people were immensely rich and could do what they liked with their money—even keep it. No high taxes limited their fortunes. . . . One had to wheedle, bully, or cajole—and I did all three shamelessly. ...
4. Queen of Off Broadway
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Attorney Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a short street by New York standards. Beginning at a wide thoroughfare, East Houston, it travels three blocks south before hitting the entrance and exit ramps of the Wil-liamsburg Bridge, where it leaps the parkway and picks up for another three blocks until dissolving into Hester Street and the remains of a once-...
5. Patronage and Playwriting
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In recent years, contemporary American playwright Charles L. Mee Jr. has garnered critical acclaim for works such as bobrauschenbergamerica, his Humana Festival collaboration with the SITI company in 2001, and Big Love, which has been regularly staged at regional theaters since 2000. Mee’s work has fascinated for three main reasons. First, after writing a ...
6. Everyone’s an Angel
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The voice of this chapter is not the usual scholarly or journalistic third person, but the subjective first-person plural. While I hold a doctorate in theater history and have made use of the discipline and methodology of a historian, I am also a founder of the Castillo Theatre of which I write and, thus, am an active agent in the story I relate. While I make no claim ...
7. An Alternative Theater Angel
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When one thinks of the typical theater investor, what comes to mind are those hopelessly starstruck entrepreneurs—say, corporate executives or investment bankers—who, out of personal vanity, rather credulously drop large sums of money into a Broadway show so they can see their names in the Playbill for the latest Broadway hit. And as the Broadway musical hits ...
8. Producer, Benefactor, and Playhouse Maker
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Mogul of the entertainment industry, self-made multibillionaire, adviser to artists and presidents, David Geffen has been referred to by many in the entertainment business as a “genius,” a “ruthless cutthroat,” “the ultimate seduction,” “an asshole,” “a shark,” a “pig,” and “hero.”1 Hol-lywood insiders and cultural critics must also add to the list Angelino ...
9. The Art of Good Business
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In May 2003, the Seattle Public Library unveiled its striking 355,000-square-foot Central Library designed by the famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus. As part of the opening ceremonies, it announced that the art and literature section of the collection would be named in honor of Peter Donnelly, longtime arts advocate and chief executive officer of one of the ...
Part Two: Institutional Angels
10. The Founding of Theater Arts Philanthropy in America
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During the eight years between 1957 and 1965, the Ford Foundation’s Division of Humanities and the Arts generated one of the nation’s first and most enduring policies for funding the performing arts, a policy that would ultimately give rise to the current generation of not-for-profit theaters. During this period, the foundation instilled its institutional ...
11. Funding “MaMa”
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In 1986, the MacArthur Foundation honored Ellen Stewart, the “MaMa” of the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company, with its “genius grant.” The fellowship is unusual in that it recognizes individuals rather than organizations; moreover, candidates are nominated anonymously and selected by a committee representing a wide variety of disciplines. The ...
12. A Community of Angels for Actors Theatre of Louisville
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The opening night of a new theater season always provides a reason to celebrate, and the August 18, 2005, performance of Love, Janis at Actors Theatre of Louisville was no exception. Board members, theater staff, and longtime supporters of the local institution gathered in the voluminous lobby of the 637-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium with high expectations for ...
13. Raising the Curtain
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Rockefeller—for most of the twentieth century, the name represented the great family fortune, a kind of riches beyond measure. John D. Rock-efeller, a man who began life modestly, but over the course of his lifetime became the richest man in the country, built this great business and per-sonal fortune primarily by recognizing the potential of the oil business ...
14. Funding the Theatrical Future
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Nestled near the end of the January 15, 1993, arts section of the New York Times was a three-inch news item marking the emergence of a major force for the development of new American plays. The announcement that the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust had given $1 million to the American Repertory Theatre (ART) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “for ...
15. Modern Medicis
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On May 2, 1997, after decades of disuse, the New Amsterdam Theatre reopened it doors, admitting an audience to its art nouveau interior. The production for this gala event was King David, a limited-run concert oratorio. The work’s classical heritage, implied by the biblical subject matter treated in oratorio form, was a fitting choice to pair with the ex-...
16. Static in the Signal
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There is only one thing to be feared. That is, that the Syndicate If SFX puts all the different pieces together, they are bordering on The two opening quotes, separated in time by just over a century, both voice a similar concern about the threat of one large firm dominating commercial touring theater in the United States. The first quote refers to ...
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American Arts Alliance advocates for America’s professional nonprofit arts organizations, artists, and their publics before the U.S. Congress and key Americans for the Arts represents and serves local communities and creates opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) is an international organi-...
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Series Page, Back Cover
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: Theater in the Americas