Chicago Repertory Group Collection of Scripts and Scrapbooks

Institution: University of Chicago Library - Special Collections Research Center
1100 E. 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637-1504
Phone: 773-702-8705
Fax: 773-702-3728
Date: 1933-1947
Extent: 5.5 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
The Chicago Repertory Group was founded in 1934 by six amateur actors with the aim of creating a social theater relevant to its time. The non-profit group sought to bring theater to people who could not afford the price of professional theater. In 1936, having moved to their own studio, the CRG established a theater school with an advisory board that included Langston Hughes, Clifford Odets, Morris Carnovsky, and Lee Strasberg. Carnovsky, Robert Lewis, and John Garfield of New York's Group Theatre came frequently to lecture. The CRG was further noteworthy for its use of a modified version of the Stanislavsky approach to drama, practiced by very few groups in this country at the time. The group was governed collectively by a group council with the membership performing all of the functions of the productions. The group conceived of theater as a collective art, and its primary aim was to make each of its productions a synthesis of the creative contributions of the directors, actors, designers, and technicians. Among the members of the CRG who achieved success in the professional theater are Charles de Sheim and (Louis) Studs Terkel, who acted in several CRG productions.

Scope and Content Note:
This collection is important in that it records the activity of one group during the peak period of social theater. It is especially rich in works produced by the members themselves and slanted to the specific problems of its audience and its period. Much of the material reflects the leftist attitude and the strong pro-labor sympathies which pervaded the major theater movements of the period, covering subjects such as the union organizing, strikes, and the evils of capitalism as well as praise of Russia and the Communist Party, attacks on Fascism in Spain and Germany, satires of prominent political figures, and anti-war material. The collection includes sketches, plays, poems, lyrics, and songs with and without music.

Related Material: None