Delaware Theatre Company records

Biographical and Historical Notes

The Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) was founded in Wilmington, Delaware in 1978 with a mission to create theater of the highest professional quality in Delaware and thereby enrich the vitality of the area through artistic programming, education and community service. The largest professional theater in Delaware, DTC was the collective brainchild of Cleveland Morris, Peter DeLaurier and Ceal Phelan. The three friends founded DTC "to revive a city that had fallen victim to the race riots of the late 1960s [and] whose historic past was overshadowed by the urban wasteland that had replaced neighborhood vitality.., [and to start] a professional regional theatre" (Kipp, page 13). With support from Mayor Bill McLaughlin, the Company was established in an abandoned firehouse on French Street in Wilmington, at the affordable rent of one dollar per year. The French Street Firehouse served as the site for "rehearsals, set construction, office work, and plays," (Delaware Theatre Company) despite struggles with space issues and financial resources. In 1983, as a result of raising almost two million dollars in a capital campaign, DTC moved into a new building on the Christiana waterfront.

The Delaware Theatre Company is currently governed by a board of directors that is led by a team of four officers: a chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and secretary. In addition, several committees have been formed to help manage particular aspects of DTC. Over the years, there have been development, executive, long range planning, nominating, benefit and finance committees, and others.

Since its inception, the Delaware Theatre Company has produced about five plays are produced per season. Plays have included A Christmas Carol , Hamlet , The Importance of Being Earnest , Our Town and Looking Over the President's Shoulder . In addition, new plays dealing with interracial dynamics in America continue to be discovered by a biennial competition called "Connections."

Cleveland Morris was a co-founder and the first artistic director of the Delaware Theatre Company. Morris was born circa 1940 and educated at Yale University, where he studied drawing and color theory. He also studied at West of England College of Art and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. From its founding until 1998, Morris served as the artistic director for the DTC with goals to provide high professional quality theatre. Morris' talent was well-known, and according to Phil Toman of WNRK Radio, "every time [he saw] ‘directed by Cleveland Morris' in a program, [he] got a mindset…it [was] going to be good." After serving the Delaware Theatre Company for twenty years, Morris resigned in 1998 in order to write novels and paint still life artwork. He moved to Virginia in 1999. He was succeeded by Fontaine Syer, who served as artistic director of DTC until 2005, and Anne Marie Cammarato, who served from 2005 to 2010.

The Delaware Theatre Company operates "nationally recognized education programs [which] reach out to all sectors of the community," (Delaware Theatre Company). Among these programs are the Theatre in the Schools matinee program; classroom visits by Delaware Theatre Company teaching artists; post-performance conversations with members of the cast; "Insights," a standards-based study guide for teachers; and Summer on the Stage. Moreover, the Delaware Theatre Company focuses on providing at-risk youth access to the arts. Some of the programs designed to help this demographic are Totally Awesome Kids, Pro-Actors, and a partnership with the Ferris School.

Sources

Delaware Theatre Company. http://www.delawaretheatre.org/. (accessed December 7, 2010).

Kipp, Carol. "Delaware Theatre Company: Spirited Past, Promising Future," PrimeLife. January/February 2005.

Scope and Content Note

The Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) records contain the administrative, financial and artistic documentation created by a professional theater organization located in Wilmington, Delaware. The collection is divided into ten series, each representing a particular aspect of theater management: "Board of Directors records, 1979-1988," "Committee records, 1981-1997," "Financial records, 1980-2000," "Marketing and public relations, 1976-1998," "Grants, 1979-1991," "Cleveland Morris papers, 1973-1999," "Play and production files, 1980-1999," "Printed materials, 1979-2000," "Press files, 1975-1997," and "Films and ephemera, 1982-1983."

Series I, "Board of Directors records, 1979-1988," contains material produced by Delaware Theatre Company's Board of Directors relating to general theater administration. The papers include meeting minutes and agendas, long range planning schedules and development records. Also included are papers regarding benefit planning, as well as budget information. The materials are organized alphabetically by subject and/or record type.

Series II, "Committee records, 1981-1997," includes the papers of the Delaware Theatre Company's various committees, each composed of members of the Board of Director's. Committees represented include: the Barefoot Ball, Computer, Development, Nominating and Search Committees. Materials include general planning documentation, meeting minutes, and committee notes. The papers are arranged alphabetically by committee name.

Series III, "Financial records, 1980-2000," includes material related to the Delaware Theatre Company's budget, as well as contributions to the theater. In general, any file relating primarily to the flow of money, whether in or out of DTC, can be found in this series. Excluded, however, is money received through grant programs, which can be found in series V. More specifically, researchers will find budget information related to DTC's special events and benefits, fundraising reports, corporate benefit plan information, annual reports and reconciliation reports. Donations, pledges, and donor lists are also included. The material is organized in loose chronological order, in deference to the creator's original organization system. With this in mind, researchers are encouraged to review the entire folder list.

Series IV, "Marketing and public relations, 1976-1998," contains materials related to the Delaware Theatre Company's outreach and advertising efforts. Season information, including mailers and printed material regarding certain plays, makes up a significant portion of this series. Also featured are fundraising efforts and documentation from yearly events like the Gateway Fest, Barefoot Ball, and Barefoot Bash. In addition, material related to the Delaware Theatre Company's educational programming and sponsored trips, such as the annual trip to London, can be found here. The material is arranged chronologically.

Series V, "Grants, 1979-1991," includes paperwork for grants that the Delaware Theatre Company applied for or received. Though some evidentiary financial records may be found, the material is generally limited to material documenting the grant-seeking process. Grant-providing organizations represented in this collection are the Delaware Humanities Forum, the City of Wilmington, and Newcastle County. Materials are arranged chronologically.

Series IV, "Cleveland Morris papers, 1973-1999," includes materials from Morris's career as co-founder and Artistic Director of the Delaware Theatre Company. His papers are further divided into seven subseries: "Administrative records, 1978-1997," "Financial records, 1978-1998," "Development and outreach, 1973-1998," "Subject files, 1978-1996," "Seasons, 1979-1999," "Plays and productions, 1981-1998," and "Actors and Playwrights, 1984-1998."

Subseries A, "Administrative records, 1978-1997," houses Morris' copies of the Delaware Theatre Company Board of Directors and Executive Committee meeting materials. These files include meeting minutes, correspondence, memoranda and budget information. Much of this documentation can be found elsewhere throughout the collection. Unique to Morris' papers, however, are files containing Delaware Theatre Company hiring information. Most of this information documents two managing director searches that took place between 1988 and 1991. This information includes Search Committee meeting minutes and correspondence, as well as applications and resumes. Also included in this subseries is a significant portion of long-range planning documentation. Files are organized alphabetically according to subject, and then chronologically within each subject.

Subseries B, "Financial records, 1978-1998," is composed of Morris' copies of the Delaware Theatre Company's financial records. This information includes budget reports and financial statements for individual departments and projects. Operating budgets and purchase orders are contained in this subseries, as well as records from the public's financial contributions. Please note that most budget information can be found in Subseries A, along with the Board of Directors and Executive Committee meeting materials. All files are organized alphabetically according to subject and/or record type, and then chronologically within each group.

Subseries C, "Development and outreach, 1973-1998," contains materials relating to Delaware Theatre Company's educational programming, development planning, and special events. Subjects include benefit and fundraiser planning information, annual playwright competitions, and educator workshops. This subseries also includes grant applications and related records, particularly to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Delaware Humanities Forum. There is significant documentation from the early 1990s regarding DTC's Haunted House. These files include volunteer applications, location information and promotional materials. In addition, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, DTC sponsored a number of trips to England for the general public. These materials include itineraries, correspondence and Morris' personal mementos from the trips, including photographs. Also included in this subseries are records related to tours and festivals in which DTC took part, including a Spanish language tour in the mid-1990s, and a theater exchange with the Watford Palace Theatre in the United Kingdom. Finally, subscriber surveys, student responses and subscriber roundtable minutes and information can be found here. The files are arranged alphabetically according to subject, and chronologically within each subject.

Subseries D, "Subject files, 1978-1996," contains Morris' personal and professional files. Morris' professional development materials include articles, books and brochures from the late 1970s and early 1980s regarding theater administration and non-profit management. Organizations that Morris was involved in on an individual basis, such as the Theatre Communications Group, are also represented. This subseries also contains Morris' collected memorabilia from Delaware Theatre Company's history, including ephemera from DTC's tenth and fifteenth anniversary celebrations. Morris' personal and professional correspondence with board members, friends, and fellow artists can also be found here. There are a number of letters regarding the Reamer Tribute Fund, made in honor of board member Terry Reamer. This subseries also contains a number of news clippings on DTC and various actresses. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Subseries E, "Seasons, 1979-1999," contains materials regarding Delaware Theatre Company's yearly season planning. Included are show ideas, season plans and information related to the finalized productions. Files are arranged chronologically according to season.

Subseries F, "Plays and Productions, 1981-1998" contains materials related to Morris' role as artistic director of Delaware Theatre Company's productions. Included are scripts, musical scores, director's notebooks, and production files. These production files contain director's notes, design and blocking information, actor information, and auditions. Letters to Morris from friends and family, often regarding opening night, are included in every production file. Interspersed throughout the files are slides and photographs from the productions, as well as play posters. At the end of the subseries there are records related to productions that, despite being performed at the Delaware Theatre Company, were produced individually of the season. These records also included play ideas that were not produced. These final files are arranged alphabetically, while the bulk of the files are arranged chronologically by season.

Subseries G, "Actors and Playwrights, 1984-1998," chronicles Morris' relationship with his creative contacts. Included is Morris' correspondence with actors, the Actors Equity Association, and playwrights, as well as audition schedules and actors' resumes. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject, and arranged chronologically within subjects.

Series VII, "Play and production files, 1980-1999," contains materials related to Delaware Theatre Company's production planning; including set design, casting, script adaptation, lighting, and rehearsal. Documentation of these subjects was organized, at creation, into production-specific groups: production files, which document casting, prop selection and other pre-planning activities; production notes, which document stage direction, set design and other general planning activities; and production books, which include both production files and notes. Also included are stage manager's reports, which document and evaluate individual performances after a production has opened. Stage manager's reports may also be included in production books. The material is organized chronologically by season, with productions arranged in the order in which they appeared in the DTC performance schedule.

Series VIII, "Printed materials, 1979-2000," contains published material relating to Delaware Theatre Company's productions, outreach and subscriber communication. The series chronicles DTC's public relations efforts and includes season brochures, subscriber letters and subscription information. Play development documentation, as well as playbills, play pamphlets, posters, and advertisements are also series. Flyers promoting special events such as the Barefoot Ball and Gateway Fest are included. Also within this series are many editions of Encore , the Delaware Theatre Company newsletter. The majority of the material in this series was transferred directly from DTC's print archives, and remains in the order in which it was received. Materials are arranged chronologically.

Series IX, "Press files, 1975-1997," contains press releases and newspaper clippings related to DTC productions. The material is arranged chronologically.

Series X, "Films and ephemera, 1982-1983," contains the collection's most unique material. There are film recordings of Aloes , Philoctetes , and Grande's Finale , as well as a t-shirt from the Theatre Arts Summer Day Camp and the ribbon cut during the opening ceremonies of DTC's waterfront theater facility.

This collection is minimally processed to the folder level.