National Jewish Theater Records

Dates: 1986-1996
Size: 6 linear feet; 1 audio tape reel; 18 folders of photographs
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: T00012
Provenance: Donated in two portions: First, in 1996 by the National Jewish Theater (NJT). Second, in 2008 by Northlight Theatre, which absorbed the NJT company when it was no longer independently viable.
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: National Jewish Theater Records, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Johanna Russ, September 2014

Historical Note

The National Jewish Theater (NJT) was founded in 1986 as a professional company devoted to producing plays that, according to one of its artistic directors, “explore and illuminate contemporary Jewish life.” NJT’s home was the Frank Theater in the Meyer Kaplan Jewish Community Center at 5050 W. Church Street in Skokie, a suburb north of Chicago home to a large Jewish population.

NJT quickly established itself on the Chicago theater scene, producing four plays per season and hosting several other performance events. At one time, the company explored developing a children’s theater. Its productions, cast and crew were widely recognized for their work throughout NJT’s ten years.

In 1995, after a season wherein NJT lost $100,000, the Jewish Community Center of Chicago decided to withdraw its funding from the theater. It was presumed that NJT would close. After much lobbying and negotiation, NJT came to an agreement with the JCC that allowed it to continue using the theater space for a low fee—it had been rent-free—and to keep the NJT name, becoming a nonprofit organization that could raise its own money. It was able to raise enough money to produce another season, but in 1996, the NJT closed its doors for good. The company was absorbed by Northlight Theatre, another north suburban group.

During its history, the following people served as leaders of NJT:

President of Board

  • Joan Krengel, 1986-1996

Chairman of Board

  • Allen Turner, 1986-1989
  • Charlotte Newberger, 1989-1993
  • Joyce Sloane, 1993-1996

Artistic Director

  • Stanley Brechner, 1986-1987
  • Sheldon Patinkin, 1987-1991
  • Arnold Aprill, 1991-1992
  • Jeff Ginsberg and Susan Padveen, 1992-1996

Scope and Content

This collection focuses on the productions put on by the NJT, with some general administrative files included. Board of director files include packets of information prepared for the board meetings, including reports, theater reviews, minutes, agendas and other materials discussed during the meeting. Records related to the productions include contracts with lighting, costume, and stage crew; casting information; newsletters; fundraising mailers; newspaper clippings; programs; promotional pieces; photographs; stage directions; scripts; budgets and other financial information regarding ticket sales and play production; artistic, design, and technical files; and information on securing production rights from the authors.

Arrangement and Series Description

Arranged in two series:

Administrative Files, 1986-1995

These files deal with the NJT generally or with multiple plays at once. Included are Board of Directors meeting minutes; the company’s newsletter, “House Lights;” subscription mailings; general newspaper clippings and photographs; information on the potential of establishing a children’s theater; information on other hosted performances; and ticket offers from related organizations.

Production Files, 1986-1996

These files deal with nearly all of the individual plays produced by the National Jewish Theater. They are arranged chronologically by production date. The files include newspaper clippings of theater reviews; photographs; programs; promotional pieces; stage directions; contracts with lighting, costume, and stage crew; information on securing production rights; and scripts.

Subject Headings

  • Aprill, Arnold
  • Jewish theater
  • Jewish theater--Archival resources
  • National Jewish Theater
  • Patinkin, Sheldon
  • Sloane, Joyce
  • Theater--Illinois--Chicago

Container List

Series 1: Administrative Files, 1986-1995

Box 1 Folder 1 Board of Directors: agenda, budget, ticket sales report, 1986 December 16
Box 1 Folder 2 Board of Directors: minutes, agenda, reports, 1990 October 2
Box 1 Folder 3 Board of Directors: agenda, reports, 1990 December 3
Box 1 Folder 4 Board of Directors: agenda, minutes, reports, 1990 December 18
Box 1 Folder 5 Board of Directors: agenda, reports, 1991 January 23
Box 1 Folder 6 Board of Directors: agenda, reports, 1991 January 30
Box 1 Folder 7 Board of Directors: minutes, reports, 1991 February 14
Box 1 Folder 8 Board of Directors: agenda, reports, 1991 March 18
Box 1 Folder 9 Board of Directors: minutes reports, 1991 April 22
Box 1 Folder 10 Board of Directors: minutes, reports, 1991 October 22
Box 1 Folder 11 Season programs, 1986-1994
Box 1 Folder 12 “House Lights” newsletter, 1987-1995
Box 1 Folder 13 Mailings; Subscription solicitations
Box 1 Folder 14 General press clippings
Box 1 Folder 15 General photographs
Box 1 Folder 16 General photographs
Box 2 Folder 1 Great Artists Series, 1988
Box 2 Folder 2 Event honoring Dr. Chaim Potok. Photographs
Box 2 Folder 3 Proposal for National Jewish Children’s Theater
Box 2 Folder 4 Brochures of other children’s theaters
Box 2 Folder 5 Sample of Young Audience Study Guide
Box 2 Folder 6 Chicagoland Advocates for Signed Theater (CAST)
Box 2 Folder 7 North Shore Group Sales mailing
Chicago Theatres On-the-Air mailing

Series 2: Production Files, 1986-1996

Box 2 Folder 8 A Shayna Maidel, written by Barbara Lebow; directed by Robert Kalfin. Working script, correspondence, 1986 October-December
Box 2 Folder 9 A Shayna Maidel. Contracts, programs, 1986 October-December
Box 2 Folder 10 A Shayna Maidel. Press, 1986 October-December
Box 2 Folder 11 Green Fields, written by Peretz Hirshbein; directed by Stanley Brechner. Contracts, correspondence, script, notes, programs, 1987 March
Box 3 Folder 1 Green Fields. Photographs, 1987 March
Box 3 Folder 2 Green Fields. Press, 1987 March
Box 3 Folder 3 Grown Ups, written by Jules Feiffer; directed by Kyle Donnelly. Correspondence, contracts, script, sketches, 1987 October-November
Box 3 Folder 4 Grown Ups. Audiotape reel, 1987 October-November
Box 3 Folder 5 Grown Ups. Script, notes, programs, 1987 October-November
Box 3 Folder 6 Grown Ups. Photographs, 1987 October-November
Box 3 Folder 7 Grown Ups. Press, 1987 October-November
Box 3 Folder 8 The Dybbuk, written by S. Anski; directed by Sheldon Patinkin. Contracts, correspondence, notes, press, 1987 October-November
Box 3 Folder 9 The Dybbuk. Press, contracts, correspondence, programs, promotional pieces, 1987 October-November
Box 4 Folder 1 The Dybbuk. Photographs, 1987 October-November
Box 4 Folder 2 The Dybbuk. Press, 1987 October-November
Box 4 Folder 3 The Magic Barrel & Other Stories, stage adaptations of the work of Bernard Malamud, Grace Paley, I.B. Singer, Stanley Elkin; directed by Arnold Aprill. Programs, 1988 February-April
Box 4 Folder 4 The Magic Barrel & Other Stories. Press, 1988 February-April
Box 4 Folder 5 Minnie’s Boys, book by Arthur Marx and Robert Fisher; songs by Larry Grossman and Hal Hackaday; directed by Estelle Goodman Spector. Contracts, correspondence, photograph, ticket and advertisement sales, 1988 May-June
Box 4 Folder 6 Minnie’s Boys. Score, contracts, programs, 1988 May-June
Box 4 Folder 7 Minnie’s Boys. Press, 1988 May-June
Box 4 Folder 8 The Puppet Master of Lodz, written by Gilles Segal; translated by Sara O’Connor; directed by J.R. Sullivan. Contracts, correspondence, promotional pieces, programs, 1988 October-November
Box 4 Folder 9 The Puppet Master of Lodz. Press, 1988 October-November
Box 4 Folder 10 I Can Get it for You Wholesale, book by Jerome Weidman; music and lyrics by Harold Rome; directed by William Payne. Correspondence, contracts, promotional pieces, programs, 1988 December-1989 January
Box 4 Folder 11 I Can Get it for You Wholesale. Photographs, 1988 December-1989 January
Box 4 Folder 12 I Can Get it for You Wholesale. Press, 1988 December-1989 January
Box 5 Folder 1 After the Fall, written by Arthur Miller; directed by Sheldon Patinkin. Contracts, correspondence, promotional pieces, programs, 1989 March
Box 5 Folder 2 After the Fall. Press, 1989 March
Box 5 Folder 3 3 by Mankowitz: The Irish Hebrew Lesson; The Bespoke Overcoat; It Should Happen to a Dog, written by Wolf Mankowitz; directed by Jimmy Bickerstaff. Contracts, correspondence, press, programs, promotional pieces, photograph, stage plan, 1989 May-June
Box 5 Folder 4 3 by Mankowitz: The Irish Hebrew Lesson; The Bespoke Overcoat; It Should Happen to a Dog. Press, 1989 May-June
Box 5 Folder 5 Social Security, written by Andrew Bergman; directed by B.J. Jones. Contracts, correspondence, press, promotional pieces, programs, 1989 May
Box 5 Folder 6 Social Security. Press, 1989 May
Box 5 Folder 7 I Am a Camera, written by John Van Druten, adapted from The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood; directed by Arnold Aprill. Press, contracts, correspondence, 1989 October-December
Box 5 Folder 8 I Am a Camera. Notes, reports, programs, 1989 October-December
Box 6 Folder 1 I Am a Camera. Script, stage notes, press, 1989 October-December
Box 6 Folder 2 I Am a Camera. Script, notes, stage plans, 1989 October-December
Box 6 Folder 3 I Am a Camera. Photographs, 1989 October-December
Box 6 Folder 4 I Am a Camera. Press, 1989 October-December
Box 6 Folder 5 Listen to My Song: Kurt Weil’s Theater Music, directed by Estelle Goodman Spector and Sheldon Patinkin; musical direction by Kingsley Day. Contracts, correspondence, notes, stage plan, promotional pieces, programs, 1990 January
Box 6 Folder 6 Listen to My Song: Kurt Weil’s Theater Music. Press, 1990 January
Box 6 Folder 7 First is Supper, written by Shelley Berman; directed by Terry McCabe. Script, stage plan, notes, promotional pieces, programs, 1990 April
Box 6 Folder 8 First is Supper. Script, stage notes, 1990 April
Box 7 Folder 1 First is Supper. Script, stage notes, 1990 April
Box 7 Folder 2 First is Supper. Photographs, 1990 April
Box 7 Folder 3 First is Supper. Press, 1990 April
Box 7 Folder 4 Cantorial, written by Ira Levin; directed by Jeff Ginsberg. Contracts, correspondence, programs, promotional pieces, 1990 June
Box 7 Folder 5 Cantorial. Correspondence, notes, script, stage notes, 1990 June
Box 7 Folder 6 Cantorial. Script, stage notes, 1990 June
Box 7 Folder 7 Cantorial. Photographs, 1990 June
Box 7 Folder 8 Cantorial. Press, 1990 June
Box 7 Folder 9 Bitter Friends, written by Gordon Rayfield; directed by Terry McCabe. Correspondence, promotional pieces, programs, 1990 October-November
Box 7 Folder 10 Bitter Friends. Script, stage notes, 1990 October-November
Box 8 Folder 1 Bitter Friends. Script, stage notes, 1990 October-November
Box 8 Folder 2 Bitter Friends. Photographs, 1990 October-November
Box 8 Folder 3 Bitter Friends. Press, 1990 October-November
Box 8 Folder 4 Solomon’s Choice, written by Cheryl Lavin and Marilynn Preston; directed by Michael Leavitt. Contracts, correspondence, promotional pieces, programs, 1990 December-1991 January
Box 8 Folder 5 Solomon’s Choice. Script, stage notes, 1990 December-1991 January
Box 8 Folder 6 Solomon’s Choice. Script, stage notes, 1990 December-1991 January
Box 8 Folder 7 Solomon’s Choice. Press, 1990 December-1991 January
Box 9 Folder 1 The Golem, adapted by Tom Mula; directed by Arnold Aprill. Script, stage notes, programs, 1991 April-May
Box 9 Folder 2 The Golem. Photographs, 1991 April-May
Box 9 Folder 3 The Golem. Press, 1991 April-May
Box 9 Folder 4 The Sunshine Boys, written by Neil Simon; directed by Tom Gianas. Contracts, correspondence, photograph, press, promotional pieces, programs, 1991 June-July
Box 9 Folder 5 The Sunshine Boys. Script, stage notes, 1991 June-July
Box 9 Folder 6 The Sunshine Boys. Press, 1991 June-July
Box 9 Folder 7 Heidi Chronicles, written by Wendy Wasserstein; directed by Sheldon Patinkin. Contracts, correspondence, press, programs, 1991 October-November
Box 9 Folder 8 Heidi Chronicles. Photographs, 1991 October-November
Box 9 Folder 9 Heidi Chronicles. Press, 1991 October-November
Box 9 Folder 10 In My Mother’s House, written by Kim Chernin; adapted by Arnold Aprill; directed by Estelle Goodman Spector. Contracts, correspondence, notes, programs, press, 1991 December-1992 January
Box 9 Folder 11 In My Mother’s House. Photographs, 1991 December-1992 January
Box 10 Folder 1 In My Mother’s House. Press, 1991 December-1992 January
Box 10 Folder 2 Sins of the Father, written by Chaim Potok; directed by David Cromer. Contracts, correspondence, programs, costume sketches, 1992 March-April
Box 10 Folder 3 Sins of the Father. Press, 1992 March-April
Box 10 Folder 4 In My Father’s Court, written by Isaac Bashevis Singer; adapted by Arnold Aprill and Jacqueline Penrod; directed by Arnold Aprill. Contracts, correspondence, press, programs, 1992 May-June
Box 10 Folder 5 In My Father’s Court. Photographs, 1992 May-June
Box 10 Folder 6 In My Father’s Court. Press, 1992 May-June
Box 10 Folder 7 The Songs of War, written by Murray Schisgal; directed by Susan Padveen. Sheet music, programs, 1992 October-November
Box 10 Folder 8 The Songs of War. Sheet music, contracts, correspondence, 1992 October-November
Box 10 Folder 9 The Songs of War. Press, 1992 October-November
Box 10 Folder 10 Whine, Women & Song. Flier, 1992 December 7
Box 10 Folder 11 The Wizard of Quiz, written by Steve Feffer; directed by Jeff Ginsberg. Contracts, correspondence, press, programs, 1992 December-1993 January
Box 11 Folder 1 The Wizard of Quiz. Script prompts, notes, stage plan, background, 1992 December-1993 January
Box 11 Folder 2 The Wizard of Quiz. Press, 1992 December-1993 January
Box 11 Folder 3 Adults Can Purim Too. Flier, 1993 March 7
Box 11 Folder 4 The Price, by Arthur Miller; directed by B.J. Jones. Contracts, correspondence, press, promotional pieces, programs, 1993 March-April
Box 11 Folder 5 The Price. Script, stage notes, 1993 March-April
Box 11 Folder 6 Puttin’ on the Ritz: The American Songs of Irving Berlin, directed by Sheldon Patinkin. Contracts, correspondence, promotional pieces, programs, 1993 June-July
Box 11 Folder 7 Puttin’ on the Ritz: The American Songs of Irving Berlin. Press, 1993 June-July
Box 11 Folder 8 Sight Unseen, written by Donald Margulies, directed by Susan Padveen. Programs, 1993 October-November
Box 11 Folder 9 Sight Unseen. Press, 1993 October-November
Box 11 Folder 10 Underground, written by Joshua Sobol; English adaptation by Ron Jenkins; directed by B.J. Jones. Contracts, correspondence, script, promotional pieces, programs, press, 1993 December-1994 January
Box 12 Folder 1 Underground. Costume research, 1993 December-1994 January
Box 12 Folder 2 Underground. Press, 1993 December-1994 January
Box 12 Folder 3 They Wrote American: I Didn’t Know What Time it Was: The Music of Richard Rogers, directed by Sheldon Patinkin. Promotional piece, 1994 February
Box 12 Folder 4 They Wrote American: I Didn’t Know What Time it Was: The Music of Richard Rogers. Press, 1994 February
Box 12 Folder 5 Telegram from Heaven, from the novel by Arnold Manoff; adapted for stage by Dinah Manoff and Dennis Bailey, directed by Valerie Landsburg. Contracts, correspondence, background, promotional piece, programs, 1994 April-May
Box 12 Folder 6 Telegram from Heaven. Press, 1994 April-May
Box 12 Folder 7 Messiah, written by Martin Sherman, directed by Jeff Ginsberg. Contract, correspondence, promotional piece, programs, 1994 June-July
Box 12 Folder 8 Messiah. Press, 1994 June-July
Box 12 Folder 9 Rocket to the Moon, written by Clifford Odets; directed by Jeff Ginsberg. Contract, correspondence, notes, press, promotional piece, programs, 1994 October-November
Box 12 Folder 10 Club Soda, written by Leah Kornfeld Friedman; directed by Steve Scott. Playbills, press, 1994 December-1995 January
Box 12 Folder 11 Club Soda. Photographs, 1994 December-1995 January
Box 12 Folder 12 Broken Glass, written by Arthur Miller; directed by Susan Padveen. Contracts, correspondence, reports, notes, press, promotional pieces, programs, 1995 March-May
Box 12 Folder 13 Broken Glass. Photographs, 1995 March-May
Box 12 Folder 14 Falling in Love with Love: A Richard Rodgers Revue, directed by Sheldon Patinkin. Programs, press, 1995 June-July
Box 12 Folder 15 Falling in Love with Love: A Richard Rodgers Revue. Photographs, 1995 June-July
Box 12 Folder 16 The Sisters Rosensweig, written by Wendy Wasserstein; directed by Susan Padveen. Programs, 1996 February
Box 12 Folder 17 The American Plan, written by Richard Greenberg; directed by Jeff Ginsberg. Programs, 1996 April
Box 12 Folder 18 Up on the Roof, adapted by Antje Gehrken; directed by Susan Osborne-Mott. Programs, 1996 June
Box 12 Folder 19 On a Slow Boat to China: Songs by Frank Loesser, directed by Jim Corti; musical direction by Kingsley Day. Programs, 1996 July
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