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Performing Arts

The Ransom Center's performing arts collections document a wide variety of performance genres, particularly from the United Kingdom and America. The collections feature holdings in theatre, dance, music, opera, and popular entertainments, such as the circus, vaudeville, pantomime, minstrel shows, puppetry, and magic. From drafts and promptbooks to designs and box office receipts, the materials in the collection emphasize the creative process from concept and staging to publication and revival.

The Center holds one of the largest collections of American, British, and Irish playwright archives including the papers of David Hare, Lillian Hellman, Adrienne Kennedy, Terrence McNally, Arthur Miller, John Osborne, J. B. Priestley, Elmer Rice, Tom Stoppard, and Tennessee Williams, along with significant collections of writers like Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, Sam Shepard, and Oscar Wilde. Visitors to the Reading Room can access over 1,100 audio and video recordings of Stella Adler's master classes on acting and script interpretation, John Wilkes Booth's promptbook for Richard III, Harry Houdini's love letters to his wife Bess, and epic scene designs by artists like Boris Aronson, Norman Bel Geddes, Gordon Conway, and Eldon Elder.

You can explore hundreds of thousands of original manuscripts, letters, photographs, designs, playbills, books, costumes, and recordings through the Ransom Center's finding aids, databases, and research guides.


Eric Colleary
Cline Curator of Theatre and Performing Arts

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