Today is officially my last day for this grant project. I look back at the past year and I just think “wow.” Wow on different levels. Wow, I have worked with some amazing people. Wow, I have learned a lot about outdoor theatre. Wow, how has it been a year already? Wow, this collection is massive.
It sounds cliché, but honestly this collection is like no other in the world that I have found. And I have gone looking to try and see how other places organized the materials. There simply isn’t any comparable collection I have been able to find. Play scripts, correspondence, clippings, publicity materials, financial, photographs, programs, and attendance information for hundreds of different outdoor theatre productions across the United States; many still running currently, many not. Beyond specific productions, there is feasibility studies and publications with “how to’s” for a wide variety of topics within outdoor theatre. What do you have to consider when selecting a site? Where can you find financial support? What are the audiences various demographics? How does a production promote itself? There is a wealth of information within the archives just waiting for someone.
The collection is now open for researchers. The finding aid can be viewed at https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/1250. Items that have been digitized can be viewed through the finding aid as well. One particular aspect of digitized items I am excited about is by the end of January, all of the audio components should be digitized and available online. A big thank you goes to Justin Borer, Joyner Library’s audio digitization specialist, who is working to get these items digitized.
Something else I am really excited about is the exhibit I mentioned in a previous blog post. “The People’s Theatre: The Institute of Outdoor Theatre and North Carolina Productions” will be installed in early January on the 4th floor of Joyner Library, and there will be an opening reception on Friday, January 15th at 4:30 pm.
I do want to say thank you to all of the people who have been involved with this project: my graduate students Jeff and Kate, Susan and Michael from the Institute of Outdoor Theatre, the numerous people at Joyner Library including Dale, Martha, Jennifer, Lynette, Joe, and those I know I have forgotten to mention. Without all of you, this project would not have been as successful as it was. And to the National Historical Publication and Records Commission for the grant, making this project possible.
So what is next for me? Well, I am staying at ECU for a bit longer. I am going to be the project archivist for an LSTA grant to get the finding aids for Laupus Library (our health sciences library) history collections online. This means that I will get to see my exhibit in its final stage and hopefully hear and see people using the Institute of Outdoor Theatre archives.