Department of Theater Studies Records, circa 1968-2004

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Duke University. Department of Theater Studies
The Department of Theater Studies at Duke University offers courses on the critical evaluation, writing and performance of dramatic works. The department seeks to promote an artistic culture at Duke by bringing professional theatrical performances to campus. The Department of Theater Studies records is composed of administrative materials and records related to both departmental and professional performances staged at Duke.
6.5 Linear Feet
Materials in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
25 -- Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
25 -- Trinity College of Arts and Sciences > 40 -- Theater Studies


Scope and content:

The Department of Theater Studies Records, 1969-2002 contains correspondence, planning documents, slides, photographs and audiovisual materials related to the administration of the department. The collection also includes materials from a diverse array of student and faculty theater productions. The Department of Theater Studies Records also contains correspondence, planning documents, clippings, promotional materials, slides, photographs, audiovisual materials and electronic records from professional productions brought to campus through the Theater Previews series.

Biographical / historical:

In 2001, the Drama Studies program at Duke University was reorganized into the Department of Theater Studies. The Department of Theater Studies provides students with opportunity to critically study theatrical works and stage dramatic productions. In the 1980s the department strove to extend its national reputation by recruiting David Ball from Carnegie Mellon University. Ball served as director of the program from 1985-1991 and recruited many prominent faculty members to join the department. In 1992, Ball was replaced by Richard Riddell who oversaw the creation of the Theater Studies department and the continued growth of the program and the improvement of theater facilities. The Theater Studies Department sponsors a student organization, the Duke Players, who contribute to productions and promote theater studies among the student body. The Duke Players also create an original "Orientation Show" for incoming freshman and stage a lab production each semester. The department also collaborates with the Music and Dance departments and with student groups such as Hoof'N'Horn and Duke Improv.

In 1986, Duke collaborated with Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg to create the Broadway Previews series. Under the management of the Department of Theater Studies, professional theater productions were staged at Duke's Page Auditorium before they moved to Broadway. The series was intended to promote artistic culture in the Durham area and give Duke students an opportunity for internships with theater professionals. The series featured many prominent actors including Jack Lemmon in A Long Day's Journey into Night (1986), Sam Waterston in A Week in the Woods (1988), Mikhail Baryshnikov in Metamorphosis (1989), Julie Harris in Lucifer's Child (1991) and Tom Selleck in A Thousand Clowns (2001). In the 1990's the Broadway Previews series was renamed Theater Previews and continues to bring professional productions to campus today.

Processing information:

Processed by: Elizabeth J. Hannigan, September 2015

Accession UA2019.0020 added by Tracy M. Jackson, March 2019.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

College theater
Duke University. Duke Players
Duke University. Theatre Previews at Duke
Riddell, Richard V.
Azenberg, Emanuel
Ball, David


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For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the office of origin and the University Archivist is required for use of administrative records. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist.

Use of audiotapes and videotapes from this collection requires the creation of reference copies. Reference copies for some materials may have been made, and if a reference copy exists, it is noted in this finding aid. To arrange for the creation of reference copies of other items, please contact University Archives staff. Although these recordings are now stored in a stable environment, their condition and playback quality is unknown.

Electronic records in this collection have been migrated to a library server and digital use copies can only be accessed onsite in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. To request access, please contact a reference archivist before coming to use these records.

Terms of access:

Copyright for official university records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], in the Deptartment of Theater Studies Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.