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Curtain Call: Don’t Miss Your Chance to See Rare Theatrical Materials

By Alice Bampton

Abbey Theatre program cover. Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Ireland, 1904-1910.

“Curtain Call: Theatrical Materials in Special Collections and the University Archives,” currently on display on the library first floor, showcases the breadth of theatrical materials housed in Special Collections and the University Archives. Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant, designed “Curtain Call.” On a placard introducing the exhibit, Bang states, “These materials cover a wide array of theatre history in the Western world with a particular emphasis on Irish theatre and our own Villanova theatre.”

Bang worked with the Rev. Dennis Gallagher, OSA, PhD, University archivist, to select materials from University Archives. Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, helped Bang mount the exhibit. And Joanne Quinn, design specialist, created graphics for the exhibit and the banner on Falvey’s homepage.

“Curtain Call …” is divided into six sections: “Curtain Call,” “Setting the Stage,” “Casting Call,” “The Play’s the Thing,” “Criticism and Reviews,” and “The Bard.”

The “Curtain Call” section, in the tall glass cabinet, features four programs from Belle Masque Dramatic Society productions (1948-1961) and seven posters from various Villanova University plays. In “Setting the Stage” Bang has gathered programs from some notable theatre companies, including the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Ireland, and the University’s past theatre groups. “Histoire Générale Illustrée Du Theatre” by Lucien Dubech, et al, is opened to an illustration of a Greek theatre.

“Casting Call,” according to Bang, “contains information on some notable performers as well as some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the production side of a play.” Particularly interesting is a large sketch of Brian G. Morgan, MA ‘70, BA ‘67. Other images show Villanova actors reviewing scripts, a selection of theatre-arts prints and a copy of “Le Theatre” (December 1898) opened to a story about Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), an American actor and dancer.

The Golden Apple: A Play for Kiltartan Children. Lady Gregory. London: John Murray, 1916.

“The Play’s the Thing” displays play scripts including three written by the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre: “The Golden Apple: A Play for Kiltartan Children,” written by an Irish woman, Lady Gregory; and “Vision: A Tale of the Time of Christ” by the Rev. John F. Burns, OSA, of Villanova. This case also highlights a program from the “[f]irst entertainment given by the Villanova College Dramatic Society” on Thanksgiving evening, 1873.

“Criticism and Review” includes three works: an anonymous critical review of “The Playboy of the Western World” in The Lepracaum [sic], a 1907 Irish publication; a 1905 critical review by Bernard Shaw and John Corbin, “The Author’s Apology From [sic] Mrs. Warren’s Profession”; and a review in a periodical, “Samhain,” edited by W. B. Yates.

The final section of the exhibit, “The Bard,” highlights the work of William Shakespeare, whose “characters and plays … are [probably the] most widely known in the Western world” (Bang). Three books and a collection of plates from “Theatre Arts Prints” provide a sampling of Shakespeare’s works.

This exhibit will remain on view for the spring semester except for a brief hiatus for an Easter exhibit.

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Last Modified: February 14, 2013