Archive of Filmed Chicago-Area Theater Productions Launches

Archive of Filmed Chicago-Area Theater Productions Launches

Photo: Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center

Through agreements with Chicago Public Library and Actors’ Equity, the Chicago Film Archive of Performance, or C-FAP, announced its permanent home in Chicago Public Library’s Special Collections and Preservation Division.

A kick-off event will be held on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m., in the Video Theater, Lower Level, at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St. Members of the cast and creative team of Oracle Productions will offer a behind-the-scenes look at bringing the hit play The Jungle to life. Based on the novel by Upton Sinclair, Oracle’s adaptation by Matt Foss is now archived as part of the Archive and Chicago Theater Collections at the Chicago Public Library.

With support from producing theater companies, private donors and a grant from the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, C-FAP has already preserved 21 productions, including:

  • Animals Out of Paper—Shattered Globe Theatre
  • Byhalia, Mississippi—The New Colony & Definition Theatre Company
  • Circle-Machine—Oracle Productions
  • Direct From Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys—Raven Theatre
  • The Drowning Girls—Signal Ensemble Theatre
  • The Few—Steep Theatre Company
  • The Hairy Ape—Oracle Productions
  • The Jungle—Oracle Productions
  • Le Switch—About Face Theatre
  • Miss Buncle’s Book—Lifeline Theatre
  • Murder Ballad—Bailiwick Chicago Theatre
  • No Wake—Route 66 Theatre Company
  • Porcelain—Prologue Theatre Company
  • Posh—Steep Theatre Company
  • Sender—A Red Orchid Theatre
  • Really Really—Interrobang Theatre Project
  • Red—Redtwist Theatre
  • Rolling—Jackalope Theatre
  • United Flight 232—The House Theatre of Chicago
  • The Wild Party—Bailiwick Chicago Theatre
  • Yasmina’s Necklace—16th Street Theatre

C-FAP will preserve five more productions by the end of June, with a goal to reach 40 archival recordings by the end of 2016.

C-FAP is a nonprofit organization with the mission to document, preserve and archive live theater and dance, interviews with notable theatrical figures and theater award ceremonies that reflect Chicago’s rich history on stage. Productions are chosen for their cultural, historical, aesthetic and educational value. Premieres, unique events, community interest and contributions of particular value by performers, directors, and designers are given special consideration in selecting productions to archive. C-FAP’s executive director makes the final selection based on suggestions from the Board of Directors and recommendations of the Joseph Jefferson Committee.

C-FAP is the third Actors’ Equity approved organization dedicated to recording and archiving live performance. The original theater archive is the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT), part of the Billy Rose Theater Collection at the New York Public Library for performing Arts in Lincoln Center, founded in 1970 by theater enthusiast Betty Corwin. James J. Taylor founded the Washington Area performing Arts Video Archive (WAPAVA) in 1993. James’ substantial archive is stored at the DC Public Library (Washingtoniana Division). In 2005, WAPAVA added a co-location of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

About author

Abigail Trabue

Abigail has worked as an actor/director in Chicago for over ten years, and along with husband Jason Epperson founded Lotus Theatricals in 2015, and PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City in 2016 (where she serves as Managing Editor of both publications). When not talking shop, Abigail is raising three padawans with Jason, drinking lots of coffee, converting school buses into RV's, and eating all the foods at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue

Comments
  • Justin Adair#1

    May 17, 2016

    Thank you for writing about this! What an amazing historical and artistic resource for the Chicago theater community. Truly a treasured archive.

    Reply
  • Albert Williams#2

    May 18, 2016

    This project has been in the works for years. Glad to see it’s finally coming to fruition, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The Harold Washington Library Special Collections Divison has an extensive collection of VHS videos of landmark productions dating back to the 1980s, including historically important Steppenwolf Theatre Company shows. Lots of legal issues (copyrights, union waivers, etc.) to be ironed out as well as the financial costs of digitizing those videos. This is a great start.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *