Chicago Theater Videotape Collection
Scope and Contents
The Chicago Theater Videotape Collection houses video recordings (primarily VHS videocassettes, but also some DVDs) of live theater productions, interviews, educational programs and other events at theaters across the city.
- Creation: 1973 - 2005
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1984 - 2000
- Bailiwick Repertory Theater (Organization)
- Goodman Theatre (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Harold Washington College (Chicago, Ill.). Loop Players. (Organization)
- Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Biographical / Historical
In 1986, the Special Collections and Preservation Division received a federal grant awarded by the Illinois State Library to help build a contemporary Chicago Theater Collection. A portion of these funds were used to document theater in Chicago through videotaped performances, interviews and education programs with a goal to “bring the vitality of theater to life and provide the researcher with the experience of the performance.”
During the 1987-1988 theater season, Special Collections filmed interviews with 10 Chicago playwrights and five live productions:
- Expectations by Dean Corrin (Victory Gardens)
- Moonlight Daring Us to Go Insane by Eugene Baldwin (Body Politic)
- Landscape of the Body by John Guare (Goodman)
- The Fifth Sun by Nicholas Patricca (Latino Chicago)
- Nebraska by John Logan (Baliwick Repertory)
Grant funding continued into the 1988-1989 season, and the library filmed an additional nine live theater performances and educational programs. These recordings along with film donations from local theaters, including Stormfield, Magic Circle, City Lit, Goodman and Steppenwolf, helped establish Chicago Public Library and Special Collections, through agreements with Actors’ Equity, the Producers’ Association of Chicago-area Theaters (PACT) and United Scenic Artists as the repository for videotaped theater productions in Chicago until the agreement lapsed in the 1990s. CPL and local theaters have continued to add theater recordings to the collection.
26.25 Linear Feet (in 35 boxes (including 404 VHS videocassettes and 2 DVDs))
Language of Materials
The Chicago Theater Videotape Collection houses video recordings (primarily VHS videocassettes, but also some DVDs) of productions and other events at theaters across the city.
The Chicago Theater Videotape Collection is arranged into four series
- Series 1: Productions, 1973-2005, undated
- Series 2: Playwright Interviews, 1987-1988
- Series 3: Public, Promotional and Educational Programs, 1976-2005
- Series 4: Grant Applications, 1987-1993, undated
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Access to some audiovisual material may not be possible due to available replay equipment or to state of physical media. Please contact the archives before your visit.
Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least 24-hours prior to your research visit to coordinate access.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection is compiled from multiple donors and theaters. Please see individual collection notes for more extensive provenance information.
Genre / Form
- Guide to the Chicago Theater Videotape Collection
- Original author unknown. Finding aid updated by Sarah Zimmerman, 2017. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Sarah Zimmerman, 2021.
- circa 2000
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding guide written in English.
Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository
Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States