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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 2023

John Haggott papers on the Margaret Webster-Paul Robeson production of Shakespeare's Othello

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the Theatre Guild production of Othello starring Paul Robeson from its premiere at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 10, 1942 to its return to New York City in 1945 following 296 performances on Broadway and a tour of the United States and Canada. Formed by stage manager and associate producer John Haggott, the collection consists of correspondence; administrative and financial records, including contracts and box office statements; programs, publicity material, photographs and clippings; Haggott’s promptbook for the 1944-45 tour; and stage props.

Dates

  • 1942-1958
  • Majority of material found in 1942-1946

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Extent

2.2 linear feet (10 boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Under the direction of Margaret Webster, singer-actor and political activist Paul Robeson became the first African American to be cast as Othello in a major production in the United States. The production premiered in 1942 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Uta Hagen as Desdemona and her husband, Puerto Rican actor José Ferrer, as Iago. Webster played Emilia but was replaced by Edith King during the Broadway run after a dispute over star billing status for Ferrer and Hagen.

The Broadway production ran from October 1943 to June 1944 and was produced by the Theatre Guild and designed by Robert Edmond Jones. John Haggott, Harvard Class of 1935, served as stage manager and associate producer. The production broke the record, which it still holds, for the longest-running Shakespeare play on Broadway.

Arrangement

Arranged into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Production papers; III. Contracts: III.1 Artist agreements with the Theatre Guild III.2 Other agreements; IV. Financial papers: IV.1 Weekly statements IV.2 Box office statements IV.3 Summary statements IV.4 Other financial papers; V. Programs; VI. Publicity; VII. Promptbook; VIII. Photographs; IX. Stage properties; X. Additional material; XI. Original enclosures

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2005MT-1. Gift of Catherine Phinizy in memory of John Haggott and Frances Harison Phinizy Haggott, 2001.

Processing Information

Processed by Diana Myers and Dale Stinchcomb from a checklist by Fredric Woodbridge Wilson, 2019.
Link to catalog
Title
Haggott, John. John Haggott papers on the Margaret Webster-Paul Robeson production of Shakespeare's Othello, 1942-1958 (MS Thr 2023): Guide.
Status
completed
Author
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Date
January 6, 2020
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
EAD ID
hou03299

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.

Contact:
Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440