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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 2064

Cambridge Drama Festival records


The Cambridge Drama Festival records document the festival's operations during the 1950s-1960s, including materials relating to theatrical productions, business records, and construction of the Metropolitan Boston Arts Center.


  • 1956-1970, undated


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


29 boxes
This collection documents the Cambridge Drama Festival, which operated in the 1950s and 1960s. It includes correspondence, financial records, press releases and publicity, photographs, ticket sales, technical information, newspaper clippings, and playbills. Highlights include the Summer Festival series of Shakespearean and other classic plays, such as George Bernard Shaw’s St. Joan, and performances by world-renowned actors and actresses including Sir John Gielgud, Charles Laughton, and Elsa Lanchester. The collection also contains some working papers of Cambridge Drama Festival’s co-founder, William Morris Hunt, and materials pertaining to the construction of the Metropolitan Boston Arts Center.

Historical note

The Cambridge Drama Festival was founded in 1956 by William Morris Hunt and other former members of the Brattle Theatre Group which operated from 1949-1952. Its first performances were held at the Sanders Theatre until it moved to the Metropolitan Boston Art Center Theater in 1959. The Festival attracted world-renowned actors including Sir John Gielgud, Siobhan McKenna, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Michael Redgrave, and Emlyn Williams. The festival also employed Gene Wilder in his first professional position, as a fencing instructor for “Twelfth Night” and “Macbeth” in 1959. The Festival seemed to operate until some time in the 1960s.


“Cambridge Drama Festival: A New Attempt for Success,” The Harvard Crimson (May 25, 1956).

Juul, Matt. “Gene Wilder’s First Professional Acting Job Was in Cambridge,” Boston Magazine (August 29, 2016).

Norton, Eliot. “Cambridge Drama Festival,” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 4 (Autumn 1959).


The collection is arranged into four series: I. Great Players Series; II. Summer Festival Series; III. Business records; and IV. Photographs. Series III is arranged into four subseries: A. Chronological subject files; B. William Morris Hunt; C. Financial files; and D. Metropolitan Boston Arts Center.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Unknown source, unknown date.

Processing Information

Processed by Annalisa Moretti, 2020.
This collection was processed to a basic level with minimal rehousing, organization, and preservation.
Link to catalog



Cambridge Drama Festival. Cambridge Drama Festival records, 1956-1970, undated (MS Thr 2064): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
June 2020
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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