Sarajane Avidon Collection

Dates: circa 1965-2004
Size: 1 linear foot, 20 photographs
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: SPE: Archives_CTC_SJA
Provenance: These materials were donated to the Special Collections and Preservation Division by Avidon’s husband Dick Simpson in 2011.
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: Sarajane Avidon Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Sarah Zimmerman, 2011

Biographical Note

Sarajane Avidon (b. 1941- d. 2006), was born Sara Jane Levey in Brooklyn, New York. Her family moved to Parkersburg, West Virginia shortly after her birth, where she later attended Parkersburg High School, graduating in 1959. In 1963, she completed her studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois earning a B.S. in Speech and Theatre, having studied with Alvina Krause. After graduation, she moved to Chicago and enjoyed a long career as an actress.

In 1975, Avidon appeared in Under Milk Wood at Orphans Theatre. With Mike Nussbaum as director, the play earned the Jeff Award for ‘Best Ensemble.’ Avidon was a founding member of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and appeared in its first full play, Henry V (1986) and later as Maria in Twelfth Night (1996). Other notable roles include Jessie in ‘night Mother at Wisdom Bridge in 1986. In his review, theatre critic Richard Christiansen wrote: “With the aid of two marvelous actresses – Sarajane Avidon as Jessie and Elizabeth Moore as Mama – Norman’s play manages to make the dilemma of these thoroughly ordinary women tantalizing and engrossing.”

Avidon co-authored two mystery novels with Susan Sussman – Audition for Murder (1999) and Cruising for Murder (2000). The books feature the character Morgan Taylor, a young actress-detective based in Chicago.

In addition to acting and writing, Avidon was an award winning visual artist creating “Corgicards,” a series of postcard-size collages incorporating maps, photographs, postage stamps and rubber stamp images.

Scope and Content

The Sarajane Avidon Collection includes scripts, programs, photographs and notes pertaining to Avidon’s career in Chicago theater. For preservation reasons, some materials in the collection have been photocopied.

Photographs in this collection represent Avidon’s acting and writing career as well as her political interests and involvements.

Arrangement

Files are organized alphabetically by theater.

Container List

Bailiwick Repertory

Box 1 Folder 1 Celebrity Beat by Cheryl Lavin and Marilynn Preston, undated - Script

Chicago Academy for the Arts

Box 1 Folder 2 Dogg’s Hamlet by Tom Stoppard and An Evaporated Macbeth adapted by Geoffrey Baer, undated. Directed by Geoffrey Baer - Program

Chicago Dramatists Workshop

Box 1 Folder 3 Making Rounds, A Play About Anna O. by Harold L. Klawans, undated. Directed by Sherry Narens – Marked script
Box 1 Folder 4 Making Rounds, A Play About Anna O. – Marked script

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Box 1 Folder 5 RSC Willpower [circa 1989-1993] – Marked script
Box 1 Folder 6 RSC Willpower - Notes
Box 1 Folder 7 RSC Willpower - Notes
Box 1 Folder 8 Twelfth Night or What You Will by William Shakespeare, 1996 – Marked script
Box 1 Folder 9 Twelfth Night or What You Will - Notes

Roosevelt University

Box 1 Folder 10 The Locomotive by Frank Galati, circa 1970 - Script

Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey)

Box 1 Folder 11 Everybody Loves Opal, circa 1965. Directed by Vernon Schwartz, produced by Hugh Fordin, setting and lighting by Robert T. Williams - Program

Other Theaters (Location unknown)

Box 1 Folder 12 Lou Gehrig Did Not Die of Cancer by Jason Miller, undated - Script
Box 1 Folder 13 Taken in Marriage by Thomas Babe [1979]; Animal by Olivia Hailey; Pantagleize by Michel de Ghelderode, undated – Partial scripts
Box 2 Folder 1 The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan, undated – Marked script
Box 2 Folder 2 What Every Woman Knows by J. M. Barrie – Marked script
Box 2 Folder 3 [Play List], undated – Notes
Box 2 Folder 4 [Scene Studies], undated - Outline, notes, partial scripts

Photographs

Box 2 Folder 5 Sarajane Avidon - Headshots (8 photographs)
Box 2 Folder 6 Under Milk Wood, 1975 (1 photograph)
Box 2 Folder 7 Henry V, 1986 (1 photograph)
Box 2 Folder 8 Twelfth Night, 1996 (4 photographs)
Box 2 Folder 9 Audition for Murder, 1999-2000 (4 photographs)
Box 2 Folder 10 Political interests of Avidon (2 photographs)
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