Harper Theater Records

Dates: 1959-1971 (Bulk dates, 1964-1968)
Size: 1.5 linear feet, 45 photographs, 1 oversize box
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: T00011
Provenance: Donated by Bruce Sagan in 1999.
Access: No restrictions. Researchers, please request this material 24 hours in advance of use.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Harper Theater Records, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Sarah Zimmerman, August 2014

Historical Note

The Harper Theater located on Chicago’s south side in Hyde Park was designed by Horatio Wilson. The prairie style building opened as a vaudeville house in the 1910s, and has served as a movie and play house as well as a music and dance venue. It is currently owned by the University of Chicago, and operates once again as a movie house. The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Historic District.

In 1961, Bruce Sagan, publisher of the Hyde Park Herald, purchased the theater wanting to make an “off-Broadway” style experience for Chicago. Over the next three years Sagan and wife Judith renovated the space, closing off the balcony to create an intimate 300 seat theater and adding a coffee shop. Sagan described the theater as “a monument to urban renewal.” On November 5, 1964, the theater opened with the Chicago premiere of Luigi Pirandello’s Enrico IV. It brought a new live professional theater to the city. During the Sagans’ tenure, the Harper stage also hosted the annual Harper Theater Dance Festival in addition to musical events including jazz and chamber music.

Scope and Content

The Harper Theater Records include administrative files, correspondence, reviews, clippings, programs, posters and photographs highlighting dramatic and musical performances at Harper Theater during the 1960s. Productions referenced include Pirandello’s Enrico IV, Norman Mailer’s drama Deer Park performed by the Second City Repertory and a three play series presented by Eagles Mere Associates under the direction of Alvina Krause.

Bruce Sagan donated materials relating to the Harper Theater Dance Festival to the Newberry Library in 1999. They are part of the Judith and Bruce Sagan Papers, 1965-1986.

Arrangement

Folder headings are from the theater’s file; folders are arranged alphabetically. Subjects may be dispersed throughout the entire collection. Photographs and oversize items have been separated, but are listed intellectually with like materials in the finding guide.

Related Materials

Subject Headings

  • Brown, Oscar, Jr.
  • Eaton, John
  • Harper Theater
  • Krause, Alvina
  • Second City Repertory
  • Schlamme, Martha

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1 Actors’ Equity Association, 1959-1966
Box 1 Folder 2 Benefits, 1966
Box 1 Folder 3 Oscar Brown, Jr., 1966-1967
Box 1 Folder 4 Cambridge Circus, 1966 April 19 to May 8
Box 1 Folder 5 Chamber Concert Series, 1966-1967
Box 3 Folder 14 Chamber Concert Series, photographs
Box 1 Folder 6 A Chekhov Sketchbook, 1965 January 19 to February 14
Box 4 Folder 1 A Chekhov Sketchbook, oversize poster
Box 1 Folder 7 Coffee House, 1965-1966
Box 1 Folder 8 Toby Cole, 1964-1965
Box 1 Folder 9 Critics, 1966-1967
Box 1 Folder 10 Eagles Mere, 1965, 1966 January 11 to February 27
Box 3 Folder 15 Eagles Mere, photographs
Box 1 Folder 11 John Eaton, 1967-1969
Box 3 Folder 16 John Eaton, photographs
Box 1 Folder 12 Enrico IV, 1964-1965
Box 4 Folder 2 Enrico IV, oversize poster
Box 1 Folder 13 Enrico IV – script, undated
Box 2 Folder 1 The Establishment, [1962 September]
Box 2 Folder 2 Folk Concerts – Juan Brava, 1966 November
Box 2 Folder 3 Goodman Theater, 1967 June 21
Box 2 Folder 4 Group Inquiries, 1965-1966
Box 2 Folder 5 Half Horse-Half Alligator, 1966 May 10-15
Box 2 Folder 6 Happy Ending & Day of Absence, 1965-1967
Box 3 Folder 17 Happy Ending & Day of Absence, photographs
Box 2 Folder 7 HEDA [Happy Ending & Day of Absence] – clippings, 1966 December 2
Box 2 Folder 8 Happy Ending & Day of Absence – correspondence, 1966
Box 2 Folder 9 HEDA [Happy Ending & Day of Absence] press release #1 [1966]
Box 2 Folder 10 HEDA [Happy Ending & Day of Absence] press release #2 & #3, [1966-1967]
Box 2 Folder 11 HEDA [Happy Ending & Day of Absence] – program copy [1966]
Box 2 Folder 12 Harper advertising, 1966
Box 2 Folder 13 Harper-art work, [1964]
Box 2 Folder 14 Harper Licenses, 1966
Box 2 Folder 15 Harper Theater 11, 1962-1969
Box 2 Folder 16 Harper Theater 12, 1969, 1971
Box 2 Folder 17 Harper Theater polices, 1966
Box 2 Folder 18 Hospitals, 1966
Box 2 Folder 19 Interviews, 1966
Box 2 Folder 20 Inventory Harper, 1965-1966
Box 2 Folder 21 IV-M Productions, 1966-1967
Box 2 Folder 22 The Knack, 1965
Box 2 Folder 23 The Last Stage, 1968-1970
Box 2 Folder 24 Lighting, 1966-1967
Box 2 Folder 25 National Shakespeare Company, 1966-1967
Box 2 Folder 26 Othello, 1965
Box 3 Folder 1 Martha Schlamme, 1963, 1965, 1966 October 4-16
Box 3 Folder 2 Martha Schlamme, 1966
Box 3 Folder 3 Martha Schlamme, attendance report, [1966]
Box 3 Folder 4 Schlamme Copy, 1966
Box 3 Folder 18 Martha Schlamme, photographs
Box 3 Folder 5 Second City 1, 1966-1968
Box 3 Folder 6 Second City 2, 1967-1968
Box 3 Folder 7 Talent, 1966
Box 3 Folder 19 Talent, photograph
Box 3 Folder 8 Theater reports, Cole Ewell, 1964 December
Box 3 Folder 9 Ticket Central, 1966
Box 3 Folder 10 University representatives, etc., 1966
Box 3 Folder 11 Ushers, 1966 December 27
Box 3 Folder 12 Beverly Younger, 1966-1967
Box 3 Folder 13 [Clippings from New York newspapers, Harper Theater stationery], 1964-1969
Box 3 Folder 20 [Unidentified reception], photographs
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