Albert and Shirley Small Speial Collections Library
actors graphicCreating America's Theatre
actors graphic
Introduction to the Exhibit
Early American Theatre
A Novel Idea
Setting the Modern Stage
A Voice of Their Own
Picks and Pans
Playbills and Programs
Regional Theatre in Virginia


The University of Virginia Library would like to thank the exhibition curator Margaret Downs Hrabe, Reference Coordinator, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, for producing this exciting, comprehensive survey of American theatre history.

The curator would like to thank the U.Va. Department of Drama for its assistance with the exhibition—Robert Chapel, Gweneth West, Martin Beekman, James Scales, Kimberly Morris, and in particular, John Frick for writing the introduction.

Thanks to all of the library staff and students who have worked so hard on the exhibition: Sara Lee Barnes, Garry Barrow, Winnie Chan, Gayle Cooper, Bradley J. Daigle, Valerie Daniels, John DaVanzo, Peter Eubanks, Edward Gaynor, Marie-Louise Kragh, Larissa Mehmet, Heather Moore, Melissa Norris, Jeanne Pardee, Hoke Perkins, Mercy Quintos, George Riser, Regina Rush, and Shannon Wilson.

Thanks to our lenders: Lewis Allen, William Muller, the Museum of the City of New York, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the University of Virginia Art Museum, and the University of Virginia Department of Drama Costume Shop. A special thanks to Sam Shepard for granting permission to display materials from his collection.

Graphic design by Josef Beery.

Poster photography by Michael Bailey.

Web site design for "In the Brilliancy of the Footlights: Creating America’s Theatre" by Garry Barrow, Design Web Manager, Communications & Publications Department, University of Virginia Library.

Web site built and maintained by Bradley J. Daigle and Valerie Daniels.

Materials from the physical exhibition were digitized by staff in Special Collections Digital Services, using the center's Epson Expression 1600 scanners, PhaseOne Digital Camera mounted on a Horseman LE 4x5 Camera. Images were enhanced for web display using Adobe Photoshop. The digital exhibition is optimized for viewing on a monitor that supports the display of 24-bit color.

About the Curator

Margaret Downs Hrabe, Reference Coordinator for the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library since 1995, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from the University of Delaware in 1971. Previous to her current position with the University of Virginia, Hrabe worked at the Jessup Library of Piedmont Virginia Community College where she became involved with the college’s drama program. Over the last twelve years Hrabe has performed fourteen major roles in PVCC drama productions, the most recent being the role of Rose Baum in Arthur Miller’s The American Clock.

A comment made by theatre actor and film star Anthony Hopkins when he attended the Virginia Film Festival in the Fall of 2000 inspired the idea for this exhibition. Hopkins spoke of the process of the actor donning the mask to become a character. Hrabe thought to extend that concept by exploring who creates the character and thus the mask—the playwright. Hrabe’s love of theatre and history coincided in shaping this exhibition drawn from the rich resources of American literature and history in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. She hopes that the viewer will be enlightened as well as entertained by the content.

Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
PO Box 400110
Charlottesville, VA 22903-4110
ph: 434.924.3025  |  fax: 434.924.3143
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