Theatre Guild

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Established in New York City in 1918, and initially administered by a board of managers, the Theatre Guild was for the greater part of its history co-directed by Lawrence Langner and Theresa Helburn, with Langner’s wife, Armina Marshall Langner, serving several administrative roles. Throughout the twentieth century the Theatre Guild was instrumental in improving the quality of American theatre, introducing audiences to new playwrights and forms of dramatic writing, stagecraft, and musical theatre, and broadcasting innovative drama through radio and television.

From the guide to the Theatre Guild archive, 1918-1996, 1930-1960, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Langner and Helburn were co-directors of the Theatre Guild, based in New York City; Munsell was the business manager. The Theatre Guild produced 3 plays by Werfel on Broadway: Juarez and Maximilian (1926); Embezzled Heaven (1944-1945); and Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944-1945).

Originally established in 1919, the Theatre Guild began as an independent theatrical production company dedicated to developing new American works, as well as to bringing the best of contemporary British and European drama to New York audiences.

From 1919 through 1939, a governing board principally composed of six key members (Theresa Helburn, Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Lee Simonson, Maurice Wertheim, and Helen Westley) guided the operations of the Guild. Among the many highlights of these years were productions of works by American playwrights, including Maxwell Anderson, S. N. Behrman, Sidney Howard, Eugene O'Neill, and Robert E. Sherwood. During this period, the Guild also presented the world premieres of several plays by George Bernard Shaw and became his American agent. In its earliest days, however, the Guild relied mainly upon works by European writers, commissioning translations or adaptations of plays by such diverse authors as Karel Capek, Henrik Ibsen, and Ferenc Molnár. During the 1930s, internal division within the Guild led to the development of competing, splinter groups, such as the Group Theatre and The Playwrights' Company, and, ultimately, the reorganization of the Guild itself. By 1939, the Theatre Guild had become a leaner organization, with Langner and Helburn replacing the board and now functioning as co-directors. Buoyed by the financial success of the musical, Oklahoma! (1943), the Guild would begin several initiatives during the 1940s to reach a broader audience. Among these efforts were the implementation of a national subscription theater service and the regular broadcast of a radio program, The Theatre Guild on the Air (1945). In 1953, the radio program was transformed into a television show, The United States Steel Hour. This prize-winning anthology series was broadcast for twelve seasons. During the 1960s, the Guild grew increasingly involved with international touring and became a pioneer in arranging travel tours for its subscribers. By the 1970s, however, the Guild rarely produced any shows for the Broadway theater, although its corporate identity continued to exist in some form. In 1975, it launched the Theatre At Sea cruises, an annual offering, which continues to the present day.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Programs collection I : New York City theaters, [ca. 1865]-[ongoing] University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Culin, Stewart, 1858-1929. Culin Archival Collection Series 1: General Correspondence 1886-1929 1919-1929 (bulk). Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
creatorOf Langner, Lawrence, 1890-1962. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1915-1938. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Theatre Guild. Theatre Guild archive, ca. 1903-1980. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Sharpe, Robert Redington, 1904-1934. Papers of Robert Redington Sharpe, 1909-1934 (inclusive), 1924-1934 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Thomas Skelton papers, circa 1953-1994 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Helburn, Theresa. [Collection of material relating to the Theatre Guild]. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Digges, Dudley, 1879-1947. Dudley Digges papers, 1908-1947. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Papers, 1912-1970 (inclusive), 1912-1954 (bulk). Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Langston Hughes Collection, 1956-1960 University of Virginia. Library. Special Collections Dept.
creatorOf Coburn, Charles. [Theater programs and related ephemera in the John Davis Batchelder Collection. 2. Shakespeare]. Library of Congress
referencedIn Biography: Melvyn Douglas, 1972-1980 Indiana University, Bloomington. Center for the Study of History and Memory
referencedIn Mary Hyde Eccles papers Houghton Library
referencedIn O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953. Letters of Eugene O'Neill [manuscript], 1921 & 1924. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Museum of the City of New York. Performing arts organizations collection, 1891-1985. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Sara Greenspan Theatre Guild files, 1925-1969 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Rollo Peters Costume and Set Designs, 1912-1965 Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections
referencedIn Cheryl Crawford papers, 1920-1986 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Peters, Rollo. Rollo Peters costume and set designs, 1912-1965. Yale University Library
creatorOf Theatre Guild. Theatre Guild United States Steel Hour records, 1956-1963. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Simonson, Lee, 1888-1967. Papers, 1922-1933. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Eunice Stoddard papers, 1913-1938 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Gore Vidal papers, 1850-2020 (inclusive), 1936-2008 (bulk) Houghton Library
referencedIn Abel, Walter, 1898-1987. Walter C. Abel and family papers, 1887-1963. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Helburn, Theresa, 1887-1959. Correspondence with Franz Werfel, 1943. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Greenspan, Sara, 1894-1968. Sara Greenspan Theatre Guild files, 1925-1969. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Theresa Helburn papers, 1903-1958 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Mamoulian, Rouben. Rouben Mamoulian papers, 1740-1987 (bulk 1906-1987). Library of Congress
referencedIn Herbert M. Prentice papers, 1925-1960 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Romney Brent papers, 1934-1975 (bulk dates 1969-1975 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Lawrence Langner papers, ca. 1915-1950 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Souvenir programs of theatrical productions, 1883-1965. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Crawford, Cheryl, 1902-1986. Cheryl Crawford papers, 1920-1986. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Souvenir programs of motion pictures, 1915-1978. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Bús-Fekete, László, 1896-1971. Correspondence with Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel, 1941-1958. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Theatre Guild, Inc. collection regarding William Saroyan's, Love's Old Sweet Song, 1939-1940 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
referencedIn Autograph File, H, 1584-1988. Houghton Library
creatorOf O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1934-1942. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Langner, Lawrence, 1890-1962. Lawrence Langner papers, 1915-1962. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Watt, W. P. W. P. Watt papers, 1950-1955. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Theatre Guild archive, 1918-1996, 1930-1960 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Lawrence Langner papers, 1915-1962 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Hoffman, Bill. Affair of honor [microform] : a comedy in three acts / by Bill Hoffman. Ohio University, Alden Library
creatorOf Inge, William. Picnic : a summer romance / by William Inge. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Franz, Robert. Franz, Robert, State Fair and Theatre Guild collection, 1994-1997. University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Kenyon family. Papers, 1893-1972 (bulk 1909-1950) University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Wisdom, William B. William B. Wisdom collection of Thomas Wolfe. 1909-1959. Houghton Library
referencedIn Langner, Lawrence, 1890-1962. Lawrence Langner papers, ca. 1915-1950. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). The Importance of Being Earnest / by Oscar Wilde ; directed by John Gielgud, 1947 - house program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Dan H. Laurence Collection. Shaw explained why he "would not cut baby" : handwritten text of unpublished Saint Joan article written for the Theatre Guild in 1924. University of Guelph
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). Love for Love / by William Congreve ; directed by John Gielgud, 1947 - house program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Jackson, Charles, 1903-1968. "The lost weekend" : radio script / adapted for radio by Arnold Schulman, based on the screen play by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and the novel by Charles Jackson ; produced by the Theatre Guild, Inc. ; Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc., advertising agency for United States Steel Corporation. Kent State University
creatorOf Hepburn, Katharine, 1907-2003. Katharine Hepburn papers, 1854-1997 (bulk 1928-1994). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Kenyon family. Kenyon family papers, 1893-1972. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Hawkins, Charles (Charles Winslaid). Costume designs for The country wife, 193- New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Katharine Hepburn papers, 1854-1997, 1928-1994 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Simonson, Lee, 1888-. Papers, 1919-1938. Houghton Library
referencedIn Inge, William. Come back, Little Sheba [manuscript], 1951 February 4. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Miles White costume designs, 1943-1947. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Library of Congress. Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund. H. William Fitelson letter to Kurt Weill, 1949, July 22. Library of Congress
creatorOf Theatre Guild. Correspondence : with Margaret Naumburg, 1937-1941. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Schnitzer, Robert C. Robert C. Schnitzer and Marcella Cisney papers, ca. 1890-1989. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Dudley Digges papers, 1908-1947 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Robert C. Schnitzer and Marcella Cisney papers, ca.1890-1989 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn William Faulkner collection, 1944-1966 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Paul Green Papers, 1880-1992 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Theatre Guild. Correspondence with Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel, 1938-1949. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Theatre Guild United States Steel Hour records, 1956-1963 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Rouben Mamoulian Papers, 1740-1987, (bulk 1906-1987) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Papers, 1919-1938. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Souvenir programs for theaters, theatrical companies, and clubs, 1892-1978. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Fitsch, Eugene C., 1892-1972. Theater scene lithograph, [1925]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Tennessee Williams correspondence and other papers, 1918-1980. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Helburn, Theresa, 1887-1959. Theresa Helburn papers, 1903-1958. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). The Importance of Being Earnest / by Oscar Wilde ; directed by John Gielgud, 1947 - production photos. University of Guelph
creatorOf Theatre Guild. Theatre Guild technical drawings and other production materials, circa 1925-1953. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Robert Franz State Fair and Theatre Guild Collection, 97-067., 1994-1997 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
creatorOf Theatre Guild technical drawings and other production materials, circa 1925-1953 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Shaw Program Collection. Theatre Guild souvenir program. University of Guelph
referencedIn Langner, Lawrence, 1890-1962. Letters to Doris Humphrey, 1944 and 1947. (5 items). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Theatre Guild of America. Theatre Guild of America records, circa 1920-1960 Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abel, Walter, 1898-1987. person
associatedWith Anderson, Maxwell, 1888-1959. person
associatedWith Barry, Philip, 1896-1949. person
associatedWith Behrman, S. N. 1893-1973. person
associatedWith Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999 person
associatedWith Brent, Romney, 1902-1975 person
associatedWith Bús-Fekete, László, 1896-1971. person
associatedWith Caldwell, Joseph, 1928- person
associatedWith Caldwell, Joseph, 1928- Cockeyed kite. person
associatedWith CBS Television Network. corporateBody
associatedWith Crawford, Cheryl, 1902-1986. person
associatedWith Culin, Stewart, 1858-1929. person
associatedWith Dan H. Laurence Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Digges, Dudley, 1879-1947. person
associatedWith Dowling, Eddie. person
correspondedWith Eccles, Mary Hyde. person
associatedWith Faulkner, William, 1897-1962 person
associatedWith Fitsch, Eugene C., 1892-1972. person
associatedWith Franz, Robert person
associatedWith Franz, Robert. person
associatedWith Gassner, John, 1903-1967. person
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Green, Paul, 1894-1981 person
associatedWith Greenspan, Sara, 1894-1968. person
associatedWith Hackman, Gene. person
associatedWith Hawkins, Charles (Charles Winslaid) person
associatedWith Helburn, Theresa, 1887-1959. person
associatedWith Hepburn, Katharine, 1907-2003. person
associatedWith Hoffman, Bill. person
associatedWith Howard, Sidney Coe, 1891-1939. person
associatedWith Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memory corporateBody
associatedWith Inge, William person
associatedWith Inge, William. person
associatedWith Jackson, Charles, 1903-1968. person
associatedWith Kenyon family. family
associatedWith Kenyon family. family
associatedWith Komisarjevsky, Theodore, 1882-1954 person
associatedWith Langner, Lawrence, 1890-1962. person
associatedWith Mamoulian, Rouben. person
associatedWith Munsell, Warren P. person
associatedWith Museum of the City of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953. person
associatedWith Peters, Rollo. person
associatedWith Prentice, Herbert M, b. 1890 person
associatedWith Samuel French Ltd. corporateBody
associatedWith Saroyan, William, 1908-1981 person
associatedWith Schnitzer, Robert C. person
associatedWith Sharpe, Robert Redington, 1904-1934 person
associatedWith Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950. person
associatedWith Shaw Program Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Simonson, Lee, 1888- person
associatedWith Skelton, Thomas R person
associatedWith Stoddard, Eunice person
correspondedWith Vidal, Gore, 1925- person
associatedWith Watt, W. P. person
associatedWith White, Miles, 1914- person
associatedWith Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983 person
correspondedWith Wisdom, William B., 1900-1977 person
associatedWith Wood, Audrey, 1905- person
associatedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
Subject
Theater
Live television programs
Television adaptations
Theater--New York (State)--New York
American drama--20th century
Television producers and directors
Theaters--Stage-setting and scenery
Theater--Production and direction
Off--Broadway theater
Live television programs--New York (State)--New York
Stage lighting
Television plays, American
Television producers and directors--United States
Occupation
Playwrights
Producers
Directors
Television producers and directors
Activity
Television producers and directors

Corporate Body

Establishment 1918

Americans

German,

English

Information

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