Joseph Nieminski Collection

Dates: 1956-2001
Size: 1.5 linear feet, 955 drawings, 99 photographs, 314 slides, 55 models
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_CTC_JNC
Provenance: These materials were donated to the Special Collections and Preservation Division by Joseph Nieminski in 2012. Models from A Christmas Carol (items 2007.451-t) were donated by Nieminski in 2001
Access: Materials require 24-hour advance paging. Copyright associated with all materials is retained by the creator until death. At that time, copyright passes to the Chicago Public Library
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Joseph Nieminski Collection, [Box #, Folder # or Item #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Sarah Zimmerman, 2013

Biographical Note

Joseph Nieminski was born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. He became interested in scenic design as a school boy watching illusionistic scenery painted on the stage at Parish Hall for Becker Brothers Studio. Nieminski attended the School of the Art Institute (1955-1959) and earned a BFA in Advertising Design. After working in advertising and serving in the U.S. Army, where he provided scenic design for a service club production at West Point, he went on to study Scene Design at the Goodman School of Drama (1967-1970), earning a second BFA. Upon completion, he became a member of the United Scenic Artists of America. From 1970 until his retirement in 2001, Nieminski worked as a freelance set designer and scene painter. He was awarded the Charles MacArthur Award by the Chicago Drama Critics League for Lysistrata (Ravinia Festival), Suddenly, Last Summer and The Hot L Baltimore (both Ivanhoe Theatre). He received more than ten Jeff Award nominations and won for A Christmas Carol, Design for Living, and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (all Goodman Theatre). A Christmas Carol was produced annually, using Nieminski’s award winning sets, for more than twenty years. From 1979 to 2011, Nieminski served as an adjunct faculty member of the Goodman/DePaul Theatre School. In 1995, Nieminski redirected his artistic talents, and began sculpting award winning, one-of-a-kind collector dolls.

Scope and Content

The Joseph Nieminski Collection spans Nieminski’s nearly fifty year career (1956-2001) as a set designer and includes set models, draftings, painter’s elevations, sketches, slides, photographs, programs and clippings representing his broad scope of work on productions at the Goodman, St. Nicholas, Ivanhoe and Court theaters, among others.

Of note in the collection is material related to A Christmas Carol. The first production of A Christmas Carol (1978) includes the most material including draftings and set models. Materials are listed for all years associated.

Arrangement

The materials in the collection are arranged chronologically by production. Nieminski wrote comments for a number of individual productions that offer his insight and memories of working on each show. These comments have been included in the container list below and have been edited only for format. Nieminski’s original comments may be viewed upon request.

Related Materials

Additional material about these productions may be found in the related collections of the Chicago Theater Collection:

Container List

A Marriage Proposal by Anton Chekov. Gads Hill Community Center, opened 1956. Sets and costumes by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: This amateur production was done when I was a freshman undergraduate student at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was part of a kind of neighborhood carnival at the center, which is the reason for that parachute masquerading as a tent. During the performance the children in the audience kept up a constant screaming, so that none of the dialogue could be heard. We kept acting, nonetheless. After that nightmare, it’s a wonder that I still had an interest in doing theatre.

Photograph 1.315-1.317 Views of the production Nieminski’s comment: That’s me in the false whiskers.

The Army Way by Paul Dellinger, Service Club, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened October 22, 1961. Directed by Ruben Maldonado, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by United States Army. Nieminski’s comment: The “Inside Story” tells it all.

Box 1 Folder 1 “The Inside Story of The Army Way,” written by Paul Dellinger, poster, review
Box 1 Folder 2 Script

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Army Theatre, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened April 5, 1962. Directed by Joseph Nieminski, sets and costumes by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Boag. Nieminski’s comment: The set rendering was submitted as part of a portfolio for admission into the Goodman School of Drama.

Box 1 Folder 3 Program, press clippings
Oversize 1 Posters, overhead projector transparencies showing tenement houses used on the back of the cyclorama at the opening of the show, with the set silhouetted against it.
Oversize 23 Set rendering
2012.9.1 ½” scale model piece on board

The Fantasticks by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, IL, opened 1963. Directed by Gene Freeman, sets and costumes by Joseph Nieminski.

Box 1 Folder 4 Program (signed by cast)
Oversize 24 Set rendering
Slide 1.1 Narrator
Slide 1.2 Fathers
Slide 1.3 Mute, the Old Actor, and the Man Who Dies
Slide 1.4 Mute, the Girl and the Boy
Slide 1.5 “Round and Round”: the Company
Slide 1.6 Curtain call

Aaron Slick from Pumpkin Crick by Walter Benjamin Hare, Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, IL, opened 1963. Sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: Because of the scene shift between Acts I and II, a real cast iron stove would be too heavy to move, so we built a stove out of scenic materials.

Photograph 1.319 Act I set Nieminski’s comment: Act II was painted on the reverse side.
Photograph 1.320-1.327 Act I kitchen
Photograph 1.328-1.336 Act II cabaret
2012.9.2 1” scale model of the kitchen stove

A Dog in a Manger by Lope de Vega, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Studio Theatre, opened 1968. Directed by Eugenie Leontovich, sets by Joseph Nieminski.

Oversize 58 Draftings

Tanuki, the Mischievous Raccoon by Clive Rickabaugh, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1968. Directed by Dr. Bella Itkin, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Bupha Chuvisavaphong.

Oversize 2 Poster
Oversize 58 Draftings
Slide 1.7 Goodman Theatre’s gold fire curtain
Slide 1.8 The unit set
Slide 1.9 The magic fan: sun and moon motif. Japanese see a rabbit in the moon
Slide 1.10 In the woods: a screen and rock units set the scene
Slide1.11 Close-up of woods screen
Slide 1.12 The reverse side of screen becomes a garden
Slide 1.13 Garden set for a wedding with lanterns
Slide 1.14 The prince dummy pulled to heaven by his nose, and the actor playing the prince

Tom Paine by Paul Foster, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened March 28, l969. Directed by Patrick Henry, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Jerrold Gorrell. Nieminski’s comment: Students usually didn’t design for mainstage productions. I was honored to be given this difficult assignment.

Box 1 Folder 5 Program, correspondence, press clipping
Oversize 25 1” scale painter’s elevation for the governor‘s palace drop
Oversize 58 Draftings, poster
Slide 1.15 The bear pit
Slide 1.16 The bear posters are lifted
Slide 1.17 Two bear posters on the paint frame
Slide 1.18 Bear poster on the paint frame
Slide 1.19 Alive bear poster on the paint frame
Slide 1.20 The rocking unit suggesting the cross section of a ship
Slide 1.21 Fans inflate the sail
Slide 1.22 The London Packet at sea
Slide 1.23 Stage left box unit
Slide 1.24 Onstage rolling unit one
Slide 1.25 Onstage rolling unit two
Slide 1.26 Unit two dressed for governor’s palace
Slide 1.27 Close-up
Slide 1.28 Political cartoon speeches
Slide 1.29 Tie-died silk for the sea
Slide 1.30 The court of France
Slide 1.31 Stage right box unit
Slide 1.32 The ghost of Oliver Cromwell flag
Slide 1.33 Close-up
Slide 1.34 Feast for the King of France
Slide 1.35 Feast for the King of England
Slide 1.36 The trial
Slide 1.37 The imprisonment
Slide 1.38 The executions by guillotine

Little Mary Sunshine by Rick Besoyan, Florence G. Heller Auditorium, Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, opened November 28, 1969. Directed by Esther Wykell, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hilda Bourgeois, lighting by Louis Nessler.

Box 1 Folder 6 Program
Oversize 58 Draftings
Slide 1.39 Outside the Colorado Inn (model)
Slide 1.40 Point Look Out drop (model)
Slide 1.41 Cora’s bedroom (model) Nieminski’s comment: the reverse side of the inn porch unit
Slide 1.42 Chief Brown Bear’s teepee (model)
Slide 1.43 The Colorado Inn at night (model)

The Canterville Ghost by Darwin Reed Paine, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1969. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by G. E. Naselius.

Box 1 Folder 7 Review
Oversize 59 Draftings
Slide 1.44 Canterville mansion by day
Slide 1.45 Canterville mansion by night
Slide 1.46 Stage right view
Slide 1.47 Stage right at night
Slide 1.48 Stage left view
Slide 1.49 Window by day
Slide 1.50 Window at night
Slide 1.51 Portrait of Lady Canterville painted on patterned underskirt fabric
Slide 1.52 Portrait of Lord Canterville painted on patterned fabric of his cape
Slide 1.53 Portrait with actor Joe Mantegna playing the ghost
Slide 1.54 Macabre motif above entrance screen
Slide 1.55 The mansion at night
Slide 1.56 The transformation for the dream ballet
Slide 1.337 Joe Mantegna as the Canterville ghost, posing in front of his portrait

A Threepenny Christmas or the Legend of Nick the Saint by Stephen Lehner, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened December 19, 1970. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Nancy Ash, lighting by G. E. Naselius.

Box 1 Folder 8 Program
Oversize 59 Draftings
Slide 1.57 Entr’acte Nieminski’s comment: Nick entered through the hearth. The fireplace folded and all the other props were put into Nick’s sack. He carried them offstage.
Slide 1.58 London street
Slide 1.59 London street
Slide 1.60 ½” scale painter’s elevation of street scene drop. Color scheme for the show was red, green and gold for Christmas
Slide 1.61 Den of thieves
Slide 1.62 Scotland Yard
Slide 1.63 Crown Jewels in London Tower
Slide 1.64 The thieves heisting the jewels
Slide 1.65 The gallows
Slide 1.66 Kringles Department Store (veiled figure is Queen Victoria)
Oversize 3 Joseph Nieminski (above left) and assistant James Reed painting the set

The Hide and Seek Odyssey of Madeline Gimple by Frank Gagliano, Goodman Children’s Theatre Touring Company, opened 1970. Directed by Joseph Slowik, sets by Joseph Nieminski

Oversize 59 Draftings

Alice in Wonderland: A Mad, Mod, Wonderful New Version, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Theater at the Art Institute, opened January 30, 1970. Directed by Thom Racina, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Ferrucio Garavaglia.

Oversize 59 Draftings
Slide 1.67 In the rabbit hole (model)
Slide 1.68 In the rabbit hole (set) Nieminski’s comment: The circular screens above
Slide 1.69 In the rabbit hole (set) Nieminski’s comment: The circular screens above were used for projections.
Slide 1.70 Tea party (model)
Slide 1.71 Tea party (set)
Slide 1.72 Garden (model)
Slide 1.73 Queen’s court (model)
Slide 1.74 Queen’s court (set)

Tea Party / The Basement by Harold Pinter, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened March 2, 1970. Directed by Patrick Henry (Tea Party) and Joseph Slowik (The Basement), sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Al Tucci, lighting by G. E. Naselius. Nieminski’s comment: The student technician who took the photos knew that the dusty-rose easy chair was to be struck after the first scene, but he forgot. It’s gone in the model photos.

Box 1 Folder 9 Program, reviews
Oversize 60 Draftings
Slide 1.75 The Basement: opening set (model)
Slide 1.76 Danish modern manifestation (model)
Slide 1.77 Gay manifestation (model)
Slide 1.78 Opening set
Slide 1.79 Sand castle on the beach
Slide 1.80 Return to opening set
Slide 1.81 Scene on the patio
Slide 1.82 Italian restaurant
Slide 1.83 Modern manifestation
Slide 1.84 Beach in winter
Slide 1.85 Gay manifestation
Slide 1.86 Opening set
2012.9.3 ½” scale model piece on board

The Thirteen Clocks adapted from the book by James Thurber, Florence G. Heller Auditorium, Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, opened 1970. Directed by Esther Wykell, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hilda Bourgeois, lighting by Louis Nessler.

Oversize 60 Draftings
Slide 1.87 The town
Slide 1.88 The town units slid off stage right
Slide 1.89 The count’s hall wall slid on from stage left
Slide 1.90 The hall played with the rest of the castle which was permanently on the stage left side of the auditorium
Slide 1.91 The prince dressed in an upper room
Slide 1.92 The dungeon with the Golub was below
Slide 1.93 The trees upstage center parted to reveal Hagga’s hut
Slide 1.94 The hut revolved to the interior
Slide 1.95 Close up of the exterior
Slide 1.96 Close up of the interior

Children of Courage, Florence G. Miller Auditorium, Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, opened 1971. Directed by Esther Wykell, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hilda Bourgeois, lighting by Louis Nessler.

Oversize 60 Draftings

Song of the Hasid, Florence G. Miller Auditorium, Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, opened [1971]. Directed by Esther Wykell, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hilda Bourgeois, lighting by Louis Nessler.

Oversize 4 1” scale painter’s elevation

Look Homeward, Angel adapted by Ketti Frings, Murray Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL, opened August 17, 1971. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Bengt Nygren. Nieminski’s comment: The screen door frames were mounted on, and braced under, the porch platform. They played three inches downstage of the scrim, but this was not noticeable from the audience. When the doors slammed, the scrim did not move.

Box 1 Folder 10 Program, review
Oversize 26 ½” scale painter’s elevation for downstage scrim
Oversize 60 Draftings
2012.9.4 ½” scale model pieces on board

The Plain Princess by Aurand Harris, Florence G. Keller Auditorium, Bernard Horwich Community Center, opened April 16, 1972. Directed by Esther Wykell, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hilda Bourgeois, lighting by Louis Nessler.

Box 1 Folder 11 Program
Oversize 61 Draftings
2012.9.5 ½” scale model piece on board

Lysistrata by Aristophanes, adapted by John Lewin, Murray Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL, opened August 27, 1972. Directed by Bill Francisco, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Bengt Nygren.

Box 1 Folder 12 Program, reviews
Oversize 27 ½” scale painter’s elevations for changing screen and map
Oversize 61 Draftings
Photograph 1.339 ½” scale model
Photograph 1.340 The block of Styrofoam for the broken left leg

Speed Gets the Poppies by Lila Levant, Goodman Children’s Theatre Touring Company, opened 1972. Directed by Garland Wright, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Alicia Finkel.

Oversize 61 Draftings

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, Goodman Children’s Theatre, Goodman Studio Theatre, opened June 25, 1972. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by G. E. Naselius.

Box 1 Folder 13 Program

The Lamp at Midnight by Barrie Stavis, Goodman Theatre at the Museum of Science and Industry, opened November 6, 1972. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski.

Box 1 Folder 14 Progress magazine with production photo on cover
Oversize 28 Set sketch
Oversize 61 Draftings

Welcome Home by Edmund Hartmann, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened December, 1972. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Georgiana Jordan. Nieminski’s comment: Pernell Roberts was a television star in the hit series Bonanza. He had never acted on the legitimate stage. Check out his biography in the program.

Box 1 Folder 15 Program, review

Wedding Band by Alice Childress, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened May, 1972. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Georgiana Jordan. Nieminski’s comment: I was being paid a fee of $500 to design and paint the set, hunt for props, attend tech week when the actors are put into the show, sometimes assist in building the set, and sometimes do upholstery and slipcovers when needed. Out of the fee 2% went to United Scenic Artists union in addition to annual dues. Often it was a long stretch of time between openings and I used to dread a hit and an extension. Not only did Georgiana do costume design sketches, she also shopped for fabrics, stitched up the clothes in her basement and brought them in.

Box 1 Folder 16 Program, review
Oversize 29 [Sketch] Nieminski’s comment: [This] pen and ink sketch of the set that was asked for by the Chicago Sun-Times to accompany their review. It was never used, and I never did one again.
Oversize 29 Pastel sketch showing a possible look for the front door Nieminski’s comment: It was rejected for being too elegant.
Photograph 1.341-1.342 ½” scale model

Rich Man, Poor Man, Florence G. Keller Auditorium, Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, opened 1973. Directed by Esther Wykell, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hilda Bourgeois, lighting by Louis Nessler.

Oversize 5 ½” scale painter’s elevations
Oversize 61 Draftings

Jamie and the 9300 by Clifford Browder, Goodman School of Drama, Goodman Studio Theatre, opened 1973. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Julie Nagel, lighting by Kenneth Peters.

Box 1 Folder 17 Program
Oversize 62 Draftings
Slide 1.97 Jamie’s village apartment (model)
Slide 1.98 Victor’s office (model)
Slide 1.99 Hospital room (model)
Slide 1.100 Jewish cemetery (model)
Slide 1.101 Mrs. Winick’s (model)
Slide 1.102 New York Stock Exchange (model)
Slide 1.103 Nightmare sequence (model)
Slide 1.104 The escape (model)
Slide 1.105 God’s receptionist (model)
Slide 1.106 God’s office (model)
Slide 1.107 The 9300 (model)
Slide 1.108 Jamie’s village apartment (set)
Slide 1.109 Victor’s office (set)
Slide 1.110 Hospital room (set)
Slide 1.111 Jewish cemetery (set)
Slide 1.112 Mrs. Winick’s (set)
Slide 1.113 Victor’s office (set)
Slide 1.114 New York Stock Exchange (set)
Slide 1.115 Nightmare sequence (scrim drop)
Slide 1.116 Story board for filmed nightmare sequence projected on drop
Slide 1.117 The escape (set)
Slide 1.118 Victor’s office at night (set)
Slide 1.119 Jewish cemetery (set)
Slide 1.120 God’s receptionist (set)
Slide 1.121 God’s office (set)
Slide 1.122 The 9300 (set)
Slide 1.123 The 9300 catches Jamie (set)
Slide 1.124 Back at the village flat (set)
Slide 1.125 The final tableau (set)
2012.9.6 ½” scale model pieces on board

Dance on a Country Grave by Kelly Hamilton, Arlington Park Theatre, Arlington Heights, IL, opened December, 1973. Directed by Patrick Henry, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Daniel Adams. Nieminski’s comment: The architects who designed Arlington Park Theatre must have bought themselves a new big compass, because the whole interior design, including the stage, is based on curves. This gives the set designer no point of orientation on which to build the setting. There are four sections of seating surrounding a stage which looks like an old fashioned TV tube. We took out an entire section to provide a place for the orchestra. This must have been very expensive in box office receipts.

Box 1 Folder 18 Program, review
Oversize 30 Pencil drawing of proposed solution for using natural foliage to suggest an architectural door and window. Nieminski’s comment: Not used.

Suddenly, Last Summer by Tennessee Williams, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened February, 1973. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Costumes Unlimited, lighting by Thomas M. Guerra. Nieminski’s comment: When you look at an actual scale model, your imagination fills in a lot of the details. In a photo, the stuff that’s supposed to look like tropical foliage just looks like a sprig of old Christmas tree bough. When you look at the set during performance, your brain blocks out those audience members on the other side of the stage, but when you photograph the set, all you see is a lot of rows of empty red seats, because in arena theatre the scenery exists on the floor of the stage and above your head.

Box 1 Folder 19 Program, review
Photograph 1.343 ½” scale set model

Never Too Late by Sumner Arthur Long, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened March, 1973. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Georgiana Jordan. Nieminski’s comment: In the play the leading actor has to carry a bathtub. Everyone thought this would be no problem “because the new bathtubs are so lightweight that anyone can carry one.” Edward Andrews [was concerned about carrying the bathtub, but] took the part even though he must have read the script and knew what he had to do. We built a Styrofoam bathtub that was so unconvincing that we partially hid it in a lightweight wooden crate. The whole thing was probably heavier than a real bathtub, but Andrews carried it.

Box 1 Folder 20 Program, review

The Hot L Baltimore by Lanford Wilson, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened April, 1973. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Georgiana Jordan. Nieminski’s comment: Lanford Wilson came to Chicago to see our production and I met him. He thought that my set was very faithful to his concept. He said that he could never get anything like that in New York. I told him that I thought he was serious in his opening description of the set, and that I wanted to give him what he called for. Later in the season, when I talked to Daniel Adams, the lighting designer who lit Dance on a Country Grave, Adams described a production of The Hot L Baltimore that he saw in California. It was my set! Wilson must have gotten someone to copy it.

Box 1 Folder 21 Program, reviews
2012.9.19 Art Deco frog plaque from front of telephone switchboard [set prop]

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened August, 1973. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Georgiana Jordan.

Box 1 Folder 22 Program, reviews

Father’s Day by Oliver Hailey, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened October, l973. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: For some reason, George Keathley is listed in the program as producer, but not as director. The play got such poor reviews at opening that it was immediately cancelled and replaced by Jacques Brel.

Box 1 Folder 23 Program, reviews

I Do! I Do! by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened December 6, 1973. Directed by Lucia Victor, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costume coordinator by Cynthia Cavalenes, lighting by Michael S. Hooker. Nieminski’s comment: Costume coordinator Cynthia Cavalenes snottily informed me that I bought too much fabric for the bedspread she stitched up for the set. I noticed that she didn’t match the pattern on the fabric and went downstairs to the costume room to bawl her out. She wasn’t in the room, but on the cutting table there were pattern pieces for a little plaid dress that she was making for herself. She wasn’t matching the plaids either, so I just let her be.

Box 1 Folder 24 Program

Da by Hugh Leonard, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened January 17, 1974. Directed by James D. Waring, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costume coordinator Cynthia Cavalenes, lighting by Michael S. Hooker.

Box 1 Folder 25 Program, review

To Be Young, Gifted and Black by Robert Nemiroff, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened February 19, 1974. Directed by Patrick Henry, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Andrea Kalish, lighting by Daniel Adams.

Box 1 Folder 26 Reviews
Oversize 62 Draftings
Slide 1.126 Basic setting
Slide 1.127 Close up of actors
2012.9.7 ½” scale model piece on board

Dark at the Top of the Stairs by William Inge, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened March 28, 1974. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Robert Berdell, lighting by Michael S. Hooker

Box 1 Folder 27 Reviews

Separate Tables by Terence Rattigan, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened May 16, 1974. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jessica Hahn, lighting by Michael S. Hooker.

Box 1 Folder 28 Program, review

The Boys in the Band by Mark Crowley, The Happy Medium, opened May 27, 1974. Directed by Harry Lee Rogers, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Bonnie Jean, lighting by Michael S. Hooker.

Box 1 Folder 29 Reviews

Guys and Dolls by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, Thunder Bird Dinner Theatre, Grand Rapids, MI, opened 1974. Directed by Harry Lee Rogers, musical direction Daryl Wagner, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Bonnie Jean.

Box 1 Folder 30 Program, review
Box 1 Folder 30a ½” scale painter’s elevation, “Save A Soul Mission” interior drop scrim [reproduction]
Oversize 31 ½” scale painter’s elevation, Times Square drop

The Sea Horse by Edward J. Moore, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened June, 1974. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costume coordinator Cynthia Cavalenes, lighting by Michael S. Hooker. Nieminski’s comment: For this production I designed a welded steel and neon tubing outline of a juke box that would not block sightlines, and that lit up and played music from a hidden speaker. Six years later I used it in the Goodman Studio Theatre for a Tennessee Williams play called A Perfect Analysis given by a Parrot. In Chicago, props are often shared between theatres. It’s a wonder that the audience doesn’t recognize them.

Box 1 Folder 31 Program, review

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Berthold Brecht, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened l975. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by John David Ridge, lighting by Gilbert V. Hemsley, Jr.

Box 1 Folder 32 Program, reviews, study guide
Oversize 6 Booklet of original artwork for slides: Hand tinted photographs covered with acetate with applied press type lettering and cropped to a 35mm slide format.
Oversize 32 Full size sample of the lettering used on the projections. Nieminski’s comment: It was used to check the legibility from seats in the auditorium.
Scene 14: Two side walls of garage
Scene 14: Garage door roll drop
Final scene: The convention in Soldier’s Field (set rendering) Nieminski’s comment: Designed to suggest the Nuremburg Rallies.
Oversize 33 1” scale painter’s elevations: Scene 2: Merchandise Mart,
Scene 3: Dogsborough’s saloon, Scene 5: Dogsborough’s saloon bar profiles, Dogsborough’s country house window, Scene 16: Rosehill Cemetery Tomb, Proposed emblem for the Cauliflower Trust Nieminski’s Comment: Not used.
Oversize 62 Draftings
Slide 1.128 Arturo Ui’s hotel room
Slide 1.129 Givola’s flower store
Slide 1.130 Arturo Ui’s suite at the Stevens Hotel
Slide 1.131 Rosehill Cemetary Nieminski’s comment: Misspelled and the critics caught it.
Slide 1.132 “Austria yields to Nazi cajoling…”
2012.9.8 ½” scale model pieces on board

Our Town by Thornton Wilder, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened October 3, 1975. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Gilbert V. Hemsley, Jr. Nieminski’s comment: The Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute had a plaster dome cyclorama at the back of the stage. It created the impression of the sky, or could be used as a neutral back wall. Our Town called for the typical brick back wall of the average Broadway stage, so we created one out of lightweight vacuum formed plastic. The bricks were made out of varied thickness plywood and sprinkled with kitty litter to give them texture. We also vacuum formed a section of real radiator to make a lightweight copy of it.

Box 1 Folder 33 Program, review
Oversize 34 1” scale painter’s elevation for a section of the back wall with radiators
Oversize 62 Draftings
Slide 1.133 Nieminski’s comment: The ladders represent the kids in windows on the second story of their houses, while a church service goes on upstage.
Slide 1.134 The graveyard

The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia by Preston Jones, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened February 19, 1976. Directed by Harold Stone, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by John David Ridge, lighting by F. Mitchell Dana.

Box 1 Folder 34 Reviews
Oversize 7 Poster
Oversize 63 Set rendering, 1” scale painter’s elevations
Oversize 78 Draftings
Slide 1.135 Painter’s elevation
Slide 1.344 [unidentified]
2012.9.9 ¼” scale white study model

Design for Living by Noel Coward. Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened October 7, l976. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Pat Collins. Nieminski’s comment: The painter’s elevations are the property of the designer. They are works of art and should be treated with respect. They should be returned by the painter in the same condition in which they are received. Some painters think that the elevations are only seen by them and are only for their information. They will match colors directly on them, spatter paint on them and otherwise disrespect them. The quality of work from these artists on the scenery itself is often commensurate with their behavior toward the elevations.

Box 1 Folder 35 Reviews
Box 1 Folder 35a Painter’s elevations [reproductions]
Oversize 36 1” scale painter’s elevation, pencil sketches
Oversize 63 Draftings
Slide 1.136 Act I
Slide 1.137 Act II
Slide 1.138 Act III

A Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened November 12, 1976. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by F. Mitchell Dana.

Box 1 Folder 36 Program, reviews
Oversize 64 Draftings
Slide 1.139 The setting
Slide 1.140 The setting
Slide 1.141 The final moments
2021.9.10 ½” scale model pieces on board

Hogan’s Goat by William Alfred, Asolo Theatre, Sarasota, FL, opened 1976. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Flozanne John, Lighting by Martin Petlock.

Box 1 Folder 37 Programs, reviews
Box 1 Folder 38 Floor plan
Oversize 37 1” scale painter’s elevation. Nieminski’s comment: All the scenery was covered in black velour so the elevations were done on velour paper.
Oversize 64 Draftings

Streamers by David Rabe, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened March 31, 1977. Directed by Gregory Mosher, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Marsha Kowal, lighting by Pat Collins.

Box 1 Folder 39 Reviews
Box 1 Folder 39a Poster [reproductions]
Oversize 64 Draftings
Slide 1.142 Basketball action
Slide 1.143 The stabbing
2012.9.11 ½” scale model piece on board

The Sea Gull by Anton Chekhov, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened November 17, 1977. Directed by Gregory Mosher, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Pat Collins.

Box 1 Folder 40 Reviews
Oversize 38 ¼” scale painter’s elevation for cloud backdrop Nieminski’s comment: The scenic artist, Mary Rausher, masked the edges of the clouds by sweeping sawdust over the areas on the drop that she wanted to keep clear. She applied the paint by spraying it through the nozzle of a garden sprayer. When the paint was dry, the sawdust was vacuumed up.
Oversize 64 Draftings
Slide 1.144 Act I
2012.12.1a-b ½” scale model of Act I gazebo with painter’s elevation for scrim curtain for Treplev’s play
2012.12.2 ½” scale model piece on board

Don Juan by Molière, translated by Christopher Hampton, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened Thursday, May 12, 1977. Directed by William Woodman, taking over for Michael Montel, sets by Joseph Nieminski, taking over for John Jensen, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Gilbert V. Hemsley, Jr. Nieminski’s comment: When set designer John Jensen saw the interpretation of his elevations that scenic artist Dick Oates gave him, he left the show. I was asked to replace Jensen. Later, all of the painted scenery was struck and the show was played against rented black drapery.

Box 1 Folder 41 Reviews
Oversize 39 1” scale painter’s elevation for the commander’s tomb Nieminski’s comment: Not used, 1” scale painter’s elevation for tombstone profiles, 1” scale painter’s elevation for railing profile with painted drapery
Oversize 78 1” scale painter’s elevation for profile flats comprising a forest scene Nieminski’s comment: Not used

Spectrum ’77, a State Farm Insurance Industrial Show, opened 1977. Sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: Annual corporate meetings involved slide shows accompanied by speakers and sometimes entertainment such as dancers and singers. The Plexiglas speaker’s podiums left and right pivoted and swung downstage center for the speakers. The floor lit up in the colors of the spectrum.

Oversize 65 Draftings
1.345 ½” scale model

Joplin by Kathleen Lombardo, St. Nicholas Theatre, opened January 27, 1977. Directed by Steven Schachter, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Julie A. Nagel, lighting by Robert Shook.

Box 1 Folder 42 Program, review
Box 1 Folder 42a Draftings [reproductions]

Otherwise Engaged by Simon Gray, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened May 12, 1978. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by F. Mitchell Dana. Nieminski’s comment: I copied the furniture for the set rendering from a Baker catalog. Production manager Philip Eickhoff took it to the Merchandise Mart and showed it to them. They were so pleased that they lent their furniture to the theatre for the production.

Box 1 Folder 43 Program, review
Oversize 40 Set rendering
Oversize 65 Draftings
Slide 1.145 Setting
Slide 1.146 Actors on the set
2012.9.13 ½” scale model pieces on board

The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened April 6, 1978. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Marsha Kowal, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 1 Folder 44 Program, review
Oversize 41 ½” scale painter’s elevation for the backdrop (2 pieces), ½” scale painter’s elevation for side profile masking flats Nieminski’s comment: We reused the sky drop from The Sea Gull, so I had to copy the old Sea Gull painter’s elevation in the new scale, then work over it with the new Night of the Iguana paint job.
Oversize 65 Draftings
Slide 1.147 Setting
Slide 1.148 Entrance of the Germans

Native Son adapted for the stage by Paul Green and Richard Wright, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1978. Directed by Gregory Mosher, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Christa Scholtz, lighting by Pat Collins.

Box 1 Folder 45 Program, review
Oversize 65 Draftings
Slide 1.149 Setting
Slide 1.150 Native Son
Slide 1.346 Final scene with Gregory Mosher directing

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1978. Directed by Tony Mokus, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Robert Christen. Nieminski’s comment: In a production of The Sea, actor Lenny Baker, playing a draper, had to cut some fabric. He was so out of control that he was afraid he’d cut himself, so he asked the prop man Jim Swank for rubber scissors. Now, who makes rubber scissors and why? Well, someone found these and presented them to Jim. I thought they were so funny that I put them in the Fezziwig Warehouse where they stayed until the show closed.

Box 1 Folder 46 Program, reviews
Box 1 Folder 46a Poster [reproductions]
Oversize 66 Draftings
Slide 1.151 Counting house
Slide 1.152 Scrooge’s hallway
Slide 1.153 Scrooge’s room
Slide 1.154 Belle and young Scrooge
Slide 1.155 The Ghost of Christmas Present
Slide 1.156 At the Cratchit’s
Slide 1.157 At Nephew Fred’s
Photograph 1.347-1.349 [unidentified]
2007.45a-t Set models
2012.9.14.1 Prop scissors from the Fezziwig Warehouse set
2012.9.14.2 1” scale model of the production
2012.9.14.3a-b 1” scale model pieces on board
2012.9.14.4 1” round 10th anniversary button

Dracula’s Dilemma by Dean Button, Goodman School of Drama / DePaul University, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened March 18, 1979. Directed by Dean Button, sets and costumes by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Kristine Bick.

Box 1 Folder 47 Program
Oversize 42 Costume sketches
Oversize 67 Draftings
Slide 1.158-1.165 [unidentified]

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1979. Directed by Estelle Spector, set and costumes by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Kristine Bick.

Box 1 Folder 48 Reviews
Oversize 8 Painter’s elevation, costume sketch
Oversize 43 1” scale painter’s elevation for scrim curtain and evergreen tree bottom roll drop
Oversize 67 Draftings, costume plot
Slide 1.166 Christmas at Camelot
Slide 1.167 Beheading the knight
Slide 1.168 Taking Gringolet
Slide 1.169 First temptation
Slide 1.170 First hunt
Slide 1.171 Second temptation
Slide 1.172 Second hunt
Slide 1.173 Confronting the knight
Slide 1.174 The knighting
Slide 1.175 Final tableau
Photograph1.350 John Newcome as Sir Gawain

Holiday by Philip Barry, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1979. Directed by Tony Tanner, sets by Joseph Nieminski after Sandro LaFerla left the production.

Box 1 Folder 49 Review
Slide 1.176 Act I living room
Slide 1.177 Act II play room

The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet, Chicago Opera Theatre, Athenaeum Theatre, opened May 25, 1979. Stage director Angelo Karas, conductor Robert Frisbie, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Maggie Bodwell, lighting by Geoffrey Buschor. Nieminski’s comment: This was Chicago Opera Theatre’s foray into a more major scale opera. When it is performed in large opera houses, it is done in several scenes or locations, in order to “grand-it-up,” but this production was done on a single unit setting in order to conserve budget. The litter which carried Leila to her wedding was decorated with gumdrop “jewels,” a play on the city of Kandy, where she originated.

Box 1 Folder 50 Program
Oversize 44 Proposed ½” scale painter’s elevation for overture scrim “Ceylonese Fishing Boats Returning to Shore” Nieminski’s comment: Not realized due to budget restrictions
Oversize 67 Draftings
2012.9.15 ½” scale paper model of sacrificial altar on board

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1979. Directed by Tony Mokus, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 1 Folder 51 Program, correspondence

Appleseed, a Play of Peace by Ed Graczyk, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1980. Directed by Estelle Spector, sets and costumes by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Brian Faul. Nieminski’s comment: This was the last Children’s Theatre production to play at the Goodman Theatre.

Box 2 Folder 1 Program
Oversize 9-15 Costume renderings
Oversize 45 Set rendering
Oversize 68 Draftings, costume plot
Photograph1.351 ½” scale model of Johnny Appleseed figure

Character Lines by Larry Ketron, St. Nicholas Theatre, opened March 18, 1980. Directed by James Wise, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jordan Ross, lighting by Rita Pietraszek.

Box 2 Folder 2 Program, reviews
Oversize 68 Draftings
Slide 1.178 Setting
Slide 1.179 Entrance suggesting upper story
Slide 1.180 Cluttered corner
Slide 1.181 Window over sink
Slide 1.182 Bathroom window
Slide 1.183-1.189 Shots with actors
2012.9.16 ½” scale model

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Arthur Miller, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute and later at the Zellerbach Theatre, Philadelphia, PA, opened January 18, 1980. Directed by Gregory Mosher, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jessica Hahn, lighting by Robert Christen. Nieminski’s comment: The Goodman production was played on a raked floor, with the side walls adjusted to the rake. In Philadelphia a flat floor was used. Since the set was symmetrical, the problem of the angled bottoms of the side walls was solved by turning the set upside down.

Box 2 Folder 3 Goodman guide to An Enemy of the People (with essay by J. Nieminski)
Oversize 46 1” scale painter’s elevation for waterfall backdrop Nieminski’s comment: Since the elevation was drawn in pencil, scenic artist Mary Raucher drew on the drop with thick lecturer’s chalk, in order to duplicate the technique. Then, she sprayed the drop with clear latex to seal it.
Oversize 68 Draftings

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, opened April 18, 1980. Directed by Sharon Ott, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Colleen Muscha, lighting by Rachel Budin.

Box 2 Folder 4 Program, press clippings
Oversize 47 Preliminary floor plan
Photograph 1.352-1.357 ½” scale model showing the scenes set up
2012.9.17.1a-9b ½” scale model of set
2012.9.17.10-10k.2 ¼” scale white paper preliminary model of the set Nieminski’s comment: Find the mouse.

A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot by Tennessee Williams, Goodman Studio Theatre, opened November 8, 1980. Directed by Gary Tucker, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Ellen Ryba, lighting by Robert Christen. Nieminski’s comment: This and the following two one-acts were presented together in an evening called Tennessee Laughs. This is the one-act where I recycled the juke box from Sea Horse at the Ivanhoe.

Box 2 Folder 5 Program
Box 2 Folder 5a Set sketch [reproductions]

The Frosted Glass Coffin by Tennessee Williams, Goodman Studio Theatre, opened November 8, 1980. Directed by Gary Tucker, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Ellen Ryba, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 5b Set sketch [reproductions]

Some Problems for the Moose Lodge by Tennessee Williams, Goodman Studio Theatre, opened November 8, 1980. Directed by Gary Tucker, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Ellen Ryba, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 5c Set sketch, prop artwork [reproductions]

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1980. Directed by Tony Mokus, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 6 Program

The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened October 2, 1981. Directed by Michael Maggio, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Jennifer Tipton.

Box 2 Folder 7 Program
Box 2 Folder 8 Correspondence
Oversize 16 1” scale painter’s elevations for the center mural and the mural over the window Nieminski’s comment: The figures in the murals were inspired by the murals of Edwin Howland Blashfield in the Elks National Memorial building in Chicago. Motifs over the window were taken from the United States Capitol building
Oversize 48 Set sketch
Oversize 68 Draftings
Slide 1.190-1.192 Model shots
Slide 1.193-1.204 Shots with actors
Slide 1.205-1.206 Painter’s elevations of murals
Photograph 1.358-1.374 ½” scale model
2016.15 ½” scale model of the set Nieminski’s comment: For two years it [the model] was shown in Europe by the United States Information Agency as part of a State Department Touring Exhibit of American Theater.
2012.9.21 “GENTS” for the toilet door [set piece] Nieminski’s comment: It’s [gents sign] specified in the script, but a real one could not be found.

Nasty Rumors and Final Remarks by Susan Miller, St. Nicholas Theatre, opened April 29, 1981. Directed by Elinor Renfield, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jordan Ross, lighting by Dan Kobayashi. Nieminski’s comment: [In the play] an actress suffers a stroke and lands in a coma (symbolized by the white surround of her hospital room with her bed presumably in the audience). Her ghost or soul wanders the hospital and says goodbye to her visiting family, lovers and friends.

Box 2 Folder 9 Program
Oversize 69 Draftings with set sketch
2012.9.18.2 ½” scale model of the set
2012.9.18.2a ½” scale model piece on board

The Incredible Murder of Cardinal Tosca by Alden Nowlen and Walter Learning, Northlight Theatre, opened 1981. Directed by Mark Milliken, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Kaye Nottbusch, lighting by Robert Shook. Nieminski’s comment: The gas fixture globes on the morgue set walls were made of cut down two liter plastic soft drink bottles, as these are cheap and won’t break in the backstage jostling of the scene shift.

Box 2 Folder 10 Program
Oversize 69 Draftings
2012.9.25.1-2012.9.25.8 ½” scale model pieces for the various scenes

Strider by Mark Rosovsky, Woodstock Opera House, Woodstock, IL, opened June 13, 1981. Directed by Frank Galati, musical direction Les Stahl, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Julie Jackson, lighting by Robert Shook.

Box 2 Folder 11 Programs, reviews
Oversize 69 Draftings

Knock on Wood, the Carpenter’s Story by Arnold Sundgaard, Arie Crown Theatre, McCormick Place, opened September 1, 1981. Directed by John Allen, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jessica Hahn, lighting by Robert Christen.

Oversize 70 Draftings
Slide 1.207-1.209 Goodman carpenter Tim Brault posing for carving of the newel post
2012.9.18.4 ½” scale set model pieces on board

Betrayal by Harold Pinter, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened January 16, 1981. Directed by Andre Ernotti, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Christa Scholtz, lighting by Paul Gallo.

Box 2 Folder 12 Program, reviews
Box 2 Folder 12a Poster [reproduction]
Oversize 70 Draftings
1.210-1.211 Actors

Anna Christie by Eugene O’Neill, St. Nicholas Theatre, [November 1981, the theater closed before the show opened]. Sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Robert Christen. Nieminski’s comment: St. Nicholas Theatre acquired a set of eight plaster capitols of no particular order, two of which I used in the bar in Anna Christie. When the St. Nicholas closed, the capitols moved to the Court Theatre and I used them again in Misalliance, Much Ado about Nothing and You Never Can Tell.

Oversize 77 Preliminary Drafting
Oversize 78 Painter’s elevation
2016.14-2016.14.7a 1” scale model

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1981. Directed by Tony Mokus, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 13 Program, review

An Italian Straw Hat by Eugene Labiche, the Outdoor Court Theatre at the University of Chicago, opened 1982. Directed by Richard S. Kordos, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Nancy Missimi, lighting by Robert Shook.

Box 2 Folder 14 Program
Box 2 Folder 14a ¼” scale paper model piece [reproductions]
Oversize 17 ¼” scale floor plan
Oversize 70 Draftings
Slide 1.212-1.214 Act I Fadinard’s apartment
Slide 1.215-1.219 Act II milliner’s shop
Slide 1.220-1.225 Act III Baroness of Champigny’s house
Slide 1.226-1.230 Act IV Beauperthuis’ apartment
Slide 1.231-1.232 Act V A square
Slide 1.233-1.236 Horses and carriages between the acts

You Never Can Tell by George Bernard Shaw, Court Theatre, opened September 30, 1982. Directed by Nicholas Rudall, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jessica Hahn, lighting by Linda Buchanan. Nieminski’s comment: Fireplace for the first act was borrowed from the set of The Incredible Murder of Cardinal Tosca at Northlight Theatre.

Box 2 Folder 15 Program
Oversize 49 1” scale painter’s elevations for Acts I and II sets, full size hand painted stencil sample to show color
Oversize 70 Draftings
Slide 1.237-1.242 Act I, Scene i a dentist’s operating room
Slide 1.243-1.246 Act I, Scene ii the terrace of the Marine Hotel
Slide 1.247-1.252 Act II, Scenes i and ii the Clandon’s sitting room

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1982. Directed by Tony Mokus, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 16 Program, reviews

What I Did Last Summer by A. R. Gurney, Jr., Northlight Repertory Theatre, opened November 6, 1983. Directed by Michael Maggio, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Kaye Nottbusch, lighting by Robert Shook.

Box 2 Folder 17 Program
Oversize 71 Draftings
2012.9.26 ½” scale model of set

Blackbird by Pamela Blake, Commons Theatre, DePaul University, opened May 5, 1983. Directed by Patrick Murphy, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Virgil Johnson, lighting by Robert Shook.

Box 2 Folder 18 Program, correspondence
Oversize 71 Draftings
2012.9.18.5 ½” scale model pieces on board

The Seagull by Anton Chekov, Commons Theatre, DePaul University, opened December 8, 1983. Directed by Bella Itkin, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Hedvig Ander, lighting by Eric Fielding.

Box 2 Folder 19 Program
Oversize 18 Act I set sketch
Oversize 71 Draftings

The Dining Room by A. R. Gurney Jr., Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1983. Directed by Michael Maggio, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Marsha Kowal, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 20 Program, review
Oversize 19 Painter’s elevation
Oversize 50 Set rendering, poster
Oversize 72 Draftings
Photograph 1.375-1.377 [unidentified]

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1983. Directed by Tony Mokus, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by James Edmund Brady, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 21 Program, reviews

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Commons Theatre, DePaul University, opened 1984. Directed by Bill Burnett, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Katherine Wagner, lighting by Robert McGarvie.

Oversize 51 Full size color sample of Act I stencil pattern, full size color rendering of Act I stained glass transoms, 1” painter’s elevation of Act II floor treatment
Oversize 72 Draftings
1.378 Act I

What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton, Northlight Repertory Company, opened May 19, l984. Directed by Michael Maggio, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Kerry Fleming, lighting by Robert Shook.

Box 2 Folder 22 Program, reviews
Oversize 72 Draftings

The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Greenfield, Costume Collection, Chicago Historical Society, opened 1984. Costume curator, Elizabeth Jachimowicz, designer Joseph Nieminski.

Oversize 72 Draftings

Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw, Court Theatre, opened February 23, 1984. Directed by Nicholas Rudall, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Nancy Missimi, lighting by Rita Pietraszek. Nieminski’s comment: The plane crash was suggested by having a shadow cross the translucent ceiling of the conservatory followed by an offstage sound effect. Then the chandelier was rigged to sway.

Box 2 Folder 23 Program
Oversize 73 Draftings
Slide 1.253 Setting
Slide 1.254 Looking stage right
Slide 1.255 Looking stage left
Slide 1.256 At night
Slide 1.267 With actors
Photograph 1.379-1.384 1” scale model
2012.9.18.6 1” scale model pieces on board Nieminski’s comment: Misalliance used the capitols inherited from the defunct St. Nicholas Theatre plus borrowed brackets from the Goodman Theatre. The plaster dome in the niche was purchased from Decorator Supply Corporation. For the model, the radiator grate was suggested with perforated paper, a craft supply used for embroidery projects since Victorian time. The architectural details in the model were formed with Super Sculpey over cardboard. Balsa wood moldings were employed

Candida by George Bernard Shaw, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened January 13, 1984. Directed by Munson Hicks, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Nan Cibula, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 24 Program, review
Oversize 73 Draftings
Oversize 78 Painter’s elevation
Slide 1.258-1.263 With actors
2016.16.1-2016.16.16 ½” scale white paper model

Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray, Northlight Theatre, opened November 7, l984. Directed by B. J. Jones, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Kaye Nottbusch, lighting by Rita Pietraszek.

Box 2 Folder 25 Program, review

Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare, Court Theatre, opened October 11, 1984. Directed by Marc B. Weiss replaced by Nicholas Rudall, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Julie Jackson, lighting by Robert Shook. Nieminski’s comment: The director was a New York lighting designer making his directing debut. When we first met at the theatre he handed me a book on Francesco Guardi for inspiration. At lunch at the University cafeteria he drew a rough floor plan of the set on a napkin. Back at the theatre we walked the stage as he described the set again in case I didn’t get it. There was nothing left for me to do except to trace a pencil around his ideas. Later in rehearsal he dictated to the actors. They hated him and complained to artistic director Nicholas Rudall. He replaced him.

Oversize 73 Draftings
Photograph 1.385-1.389 Model
2012.9.27-2012.9.27h ½” scale pieces of the model

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Gregory Mosher and Larry Sloan, Goodman Theatre at the Auditorium Theatre, opened 1984. Directed by Gregory Mosher, sets by Kate Edmunds, costumes by Christa Scholtz, lighting by Duane Schuller.

Box 2 Folder 26 Program, invitation

Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw, Court Theatre and later Murray Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL, opened September 28, 1985. Directed by Nicholas Rudall, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Jessica Hahn, lighting by Rita Pietraszek.

Box 2 Folder 27 Programs
Oversize 52 ½” scale pencil elevation for Acts I and II at Murray Theatre
Oversize 74 Draftings
2012.9.24.a-2012.9.24.b ½” scale white paper model of the reversible portion of the set

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance, Commons Theatre, DePaul University, opened 1985. Directed by Todd Schmidt, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Frances Maggio.

Slide 1.264-1.277 Actors
2012.9.18.8 ½” scale model pieces on board

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Larry Sloan, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1985. Directed by Sandra Grand, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Christa Scholtz, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 2 Folder 28 Program, production meeting schedule

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, Court Theatre, opened February 16, 1986. Directed by Nicholas Rudall, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Nancy Missimi, lighting by Robert Shook. Nieminski’s comment: Costumes and props are often pulled and recycled, but it is rare that scenery from one show is used for an entirely different play. The first act of my Theatre School production of The Importance of Being Earnest was raped and pillaged for Arms and the Man because the elements in Earnest looked exotic. The pillars from Act II of Earnest made a guest appearance in Quartermaine’s Terms.

Box 3 Folder 1 Program
Oversize 74 Draftings
2012.9..28-2012.9.28.x ½” scale model pieces Nieminski’s comment: Drapery on a model is best achieved by painting it because finding a gossamer fabric that will drape at ½” scale is impossible. Even the fabric in the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute had to be tortured into shape at twice the scale. Perfect scale carpets were found in copies of Architectural Digest. They were given a coat of wool flocking to enhance their texture

Strider by Mark Rozovsky, Commons Theatre, DePaul University, opened November 6, 1986. Directed by Joseph Slowik, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Renee S. Liepins, lighting by Paul Miller.

Box 3 Folder 2 Program
Oversize 74 Draftings
Slide 1.278 Setting
Slide 1.279-1.292 Actors
Photograph1.390-1.392 Model
Photograph 1.393 Production
2012.9.18.3 ½” scale model piece on board

Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim, University Theatre, University of Wisconsin at Madison, opened 1986. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Kaye Nottbusch. Nieminski’s comment: This set was built badly by a student with an attitude and her boyfriend. A lot of it ended up in the dumpster rather than on stage.

Oversize 74 Draftings

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Larry Sloan, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1986. Directed by Sandra Grand, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Christa Scholtz, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 3 Program, reviews

Ah, Wilderness! By Eugene O’Neill, Commons Theatre, DePaul University, opened December 3, 1987. Directed by Joseph Slowik, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Janet C. Messmer, lighting by Paul Miller.

Box 3 Folder 4 Program, review, draftings
Oversize 53 Prop calendar
Oversize 75 Draftings
Slide 1.293 Act I, Scene i
Slide 1.294-1.296 Act I, Scene i with actors
Slide 1.297 Act I, Scene ii
Slide 1.298-1.299 Act I, Scene ii with actors
Slide 1.300 Act II, Scene i
Slide 1.301-1.305 Act II, Scene i with actors
Slide 1.306 Act II, Scene ii
Slide 1.307-1.309 Act II, Scene ii with actors
Slide 1.310-1.311 Act II, Scene iii with actors
Slide 1.312 Family portrait
Slide 1.313 Set change
Slide 1.314 Crew
2012.9.23 ½” scale model pieces on board

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Larry Sloan, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1987. Directed by Michael Maggio, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Christa Scholtz, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 5 Program, reviews, correspondence, publicity flyer

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Larry Sloan, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1988. Sets by Joseph Nieminski, Julie Jackson, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 6 Invitation, reviews

Camino Real by Tennessee Williams, Theatre School, DePaul University, Blackstone Theatre, opened 1989. Directed by Joseph Slowik, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Lisa Cuneen.

Box 3 Folder 7 Program
Oversize 75 Draftings
Photograph 1.394-1.395 Crucifix from religious shrine
2012.18.7 ½” scale model pieces on board

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1989. Directed by Steve Scott, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Julie Jackson, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 8 Program, reviews

Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Helen F. Spencer Theatre, Kansas City, MO, opened 1990. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Baker S. Smith, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 9 Program
Oversize 75 Draftings
Oversize 78 Painter’s elevation
2016.13-2016.13.g ½” scale model pieces of the set Nieminski’s comment: The missing board on the front porch allows the fire curtain to descend

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1991. Directed by Steve Scott, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 10 Program, invitation

The Cocktail Hour by A. R. Gurney, Jr., Missouri Repertory Theatre, Helen S. Spencer Theatre, Kansas City, MO, opened 1992. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Vincent Scassellati, lighting by Rob Murphy. Nieminski’s comment: This play calls for an elegant suburban look. Most theatrical furniture is well used and not particularly elegant so we rented pieces for this production. Reupholstering a sofa is not easy so we found a sofa we liked and matched the other fabrics on the set to it. Paint color is the easiest of the elements to mix so that came last based on the other elements we found. This show is about an author asking his family’s permission to use them as characters in a play. Finally we realize that the play is the one we’re watching. All the detail on the walls of the set is painted illusion. At first we accept that as conventional reality. Then we realize it is scenery for the play.

Box 3 Folder 11 Program, correspondence, samples
Oversize 20 Fabric swatches
Oversize 54 1” scale painter’s elevations
Oversize 76 Draftings
Photograph 1.395a [unidentified]

Broadway Bound by Neil Simon, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Helen S. Spencer Theatre, Kansas City, MO, opened 1992. Directed by George Keathley, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Baker S. Smith, lighting by Kathy A. Perkins. Nieminski’s comment: It was a fun challenge to design these three plays in the same stage space. Moon for the Misbegotten is an exterior with a complete farmhouse on stage. I used the smallest elements I could and still keep them in relation to the human form. The suburban living room in The Cocktail Hour used elements that were slightly larger than life. Broadway Bound needs a combination interior / exterior two story house. In the set the second story bedrooms are behind the living and dining room instead of above them. That allows you to get light where you need it.

Box 3 Folder 12 Programs, correspondence
Oversize 76 Draftings, ½” scale painter’s elevations on print of draftings
Photograph 1.396-1.398 Built-in cabinet
Photograph 1.399-1.400 Cabinet built for the set

The Gigli Concert by Tom Murphy, Court Theatre and later Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, SC (Spoleto Festival U.S.A.), opened February 21, 1992 in Chicago and May 23, 1992 in Charleston. Directed by William Woodman, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Nanette Acosta, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 13 Program (Spoleto), review
Oversize 77 Draftings
Photograph 1.401-1.412 Interior of the Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, SC
2016.12-2016.12.6 ½” scale model of the set at the Spoleto Festival

Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley, Blackstone Theatre, opened December 3, 1992. Directed by James Ostholthhoff, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Lisa Marie Harrison, lighting by Richard B. Adams.

Box 3 Folder 14 Program
Oversize 77 Draftings

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1992. Directed by Steve Scott, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 15 Program, reviews, invitations

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1993. Directed by Chuck Smith, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 16 Program

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1994. Directed by Chuck Smith, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 17 Program

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1995. Directed by Chuck Smith, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 18 Program

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1996. Directed by Henry Godinez, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 19 Program, invitation, reviews

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1997. Directed by Henry Godinez, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 20 Program, reviews

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1998. Directed by Henry Godinez, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 21 Program, reviews

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 1999. Directed by Henry Godinez, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 22 Program, reviews

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 2000. Directed by Henry Godinez, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Robert Christen.

Box 3 Folder 23 Review

Alice in Wonderland adapted by Coulter Martens, Merle Reskin Theatre, opened 2001. Directed by Anne Wakefield, sets by Joseph Nieminski, lighting by Jenna MacDanold.

Box 3 Folder 24 Theatre School Annual Report with photo of the production on cover
Oversize 21 ⅜” painter’s elevations
Oversize 55 Set rendering
Oversize 77 Draftings
2012.9.18.1 ⅜” scale model piece on board

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, opened 2001. Directed by Henry Godinez, sets by Todd Rosenthal.

Box 3 Folder 25 Reviews, invitation

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute, undated.

Box 3 Folder 26 Undated notes, invitations, sketches from productions of A Christmas Carol
Oversize 22 Undated notes from productions of A Christmas Carol

Nutcracker, Arie Crown Theatre, McCormick Place Convention Center, undated. Choreography and production supervision Ruth Page, designer Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: I was asked to design a new scrim to replace the worn existing one. The original scrim was very plain due to production costs. This led to a proposed redesign of the second act using soft scenery and finally to a redesign of the whole production. When a new design was to be realized it was given to another designer. When the Joffrey Ballet came to Chicago with their Nutcracker, Ruth Page’s version closed.

Box 3 Folder 27 Program
Oversize 56 Proposed scrim rendering

Unidentified productions, undated.

Oversize 57 Unidentified painter’s elevations
Photograph 1.413 [unidentified]

Nieminski designed the sets for the following productions. However, there are no associated documents or items corresponding to these productions in the collection.

Brigadoon by Learner and Lowe, Army Theatre, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened 1962. Sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: The only reason I was asked to do this design, is because I once read a book on theatrical design. I was the expert, because nobody else thought to do this.

The Magic Isle from the Commedia dell’Arte by an unknown adapter, Goodman Children’s Theatre Touring Company, opened 1971. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski.

As You Like It adapted for children by John O’Shaughnessy, Goodman Children’s Theatre Touring Company, opened 1971. Sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Sandy Tappan Tignor. Nieminski’s comment: This production was fully designed, with the directorial concept of a group of strolling hippy players deciding to do the play, who just happened to have all the props in the trunk they are carrying. It was a tired idea that was used many times in the 1960s and 70s. Before the play went into rehearsals, the production was canceled.

How the First Letter Was Written adapted by Aurand Harris from Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” Goodman Children’s Theatre Touring Company, opened 1971. Directed by Joseph Slowik, sets by Joseph Nieminski.

The Prop Man by Robert Gibson, Goodman Children’s Theatre Touring Company, opened 1971. Directed by Joseph Slowik, sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: Robert Gibson was the star of the Children’s Theatre Touring Company. He wrote this piece in order to give himself another vehicle in which to play. In it he told the story of Humpty Dumpty, and finished by falling backwards from a prop wall. I was surprised that he was so acrobatic, and I asked if he could really do the stunt. It turned out he couldn’t, so it became a design problem. I solved it by designing a prop easy chair with a mattress for a back. When he told the story, he turned the chair on its back to create the illusion of a wall. Then, when he fell backwards, he landed on the mattress.

Discovery by Douglas Lieberman, Goodman Theatre at the Museum of Science and Industry, opened 1973. Directed by Libby Appel, sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: Because of the limited budget, I repainted the set from Lamp at Midnight (without the gothic arches) for Discovery. The next show, Thomas Edison and the Wonderful Why got a new set, but Doctor Dan, a Pioneer in Heart Surgery, had the same platform pieces from Discovery turned on end and repainted to look like wallpaper for Dr. Dan’s office.

Thomas Edison and the Wonderful Why, Goodman Theatre at the Museum of Science and Industry, opened March 5, 1973. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski.

Doctor Dan, a Pioneer in Heart Surgery, Goodman Theatre at the Museum of Science and Industry, opened April 30, 1973. Directed by Kelly Danford, sets by Joseph Nieminski.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Ivanhoe Theatre, opened October 1973. Directed by [Chita Rivera], sets by Joseph Nieminski. Nieminski’s comment: The set for Father’s Day was struck and replaced by two theatrical steamer trunks from which Chita Rivera pulled the necessary props. It was a tired old concept, but what the hell.

Cinderella by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, Ulein Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee, WI, opened 1973. Directed by Harry Lee Rogers, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Bonnie Jean.

The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare, Court Theatre, opened 1992. Directed by Philip Killian, sets by Joseph Nieminski, costumes by Frances Maggio, lighting by Rita Pietraszek.

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