Papers of Bobbi Ausubel, 1965-1990 (inclusive), 1966-1974 (bulk)
- Majority of material found within 1966-1974
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Permission to photocopy and/or produce entire original scripts by Stan Edelson and Bobbi Ausubel must be sought in writing from Ausubel during her lifetime and, upon her death, from Rivka Solomon. Other papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
1.46 linear feet ((3 +1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 2 photograph folders, 1 videotape, 1 motion picture, 1 archived web site)
The collection is arranged alphabetically. The bulk of the folder headings were created by the archivist; Ausubel's original headings, when used, appear in quotation marks.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
In 1965, Ausubel and Edelson co-founded the Caravan Theatre. The theater was initially a summer work project of the American Friends Service Committee, but eventually became an independent entity, performing experimental theater. The company performed at venues including the Harvard Epworth Church in Cambridge and also toured both nationally (in a school bus) and internationally, traveling to Poland as part of the International Polish Experimental Theatre Festival. Some of Caravan's productions were collaborative works put together by company members, while others were works by well-known playwrights, such as Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, and Bertolt Brecht. The company shared Brecht's view that theater should prompt the viewer to develop critical perspective and the ability to recognize and combat social injustice. With these goals in mind, Caravan performed plays focusing on issues such as racism, gay and women's liberation, and the anti-war movement. The theater received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Council of the Arts, and the Association for the Performing Arts.
One of the theater's most successful productions was How to Make a Woman, which was directed by Ausubel and first performed in 1967. In an essay on the history of the Caravan Theatre, Ausubel says of this play, "At a Caravan planning meeting in my living room in January 1967, before the women's movement was dreamed of, I said, 'I want to do a play about what it's like to be a woman in this culture, and it is different from being a man.' The men were supportive and the women cool, not wanting to be classified as 'women,' but as 'people.'" The play opens in a dress shop where two male characters (the Hunter and the Wolf) attempt to sell dresses, or traditional gender roles, to two women. In the course of the play, topics such as rape and the unfulfilled housewife are highlighted, with one of the women accepting the controlling power of men and the limited options offered to her, while the other woman resists and ultimately breaks free. The initial reaction to this play was relatively muted but changes in the social and political climate led to a stronger reaction when the company performed a revised version in 1968. Ausubel notes, "The play made Caravan into a center of feminist energy in Boston." The cast and crew led discussions after each performance of the play and many audience members were prompted to start consciousness raising groups. The success of these post-play discussions led Ausubel and Edelson to develop a series of workshops in which participants could further examine gender roles and relationships. The play was performed for several years and later made into a movie, starring members of the Caravan company.
Other popular productions included Suppose I Fall, Focus on Me (by Ausubel), Family (a collaborative work by the company), and Tell Me a Riddle (adapted from the short story by Tillie Olsen). Suppose I Fall, Family, and Tell Me a Riddle were all included on "ten best" lists for 1972-1973, 1976, and 1977, respectively; Arthur Friedman also included Edelson among his best directors for 1972-1973. Caravan ceased production in 1978, although a production of Fossils, Relics and Treasures of Family Life in the 1970's (based on Caravan's Family) was performed in 1979 by the Arc Theatre, an extension of Caravan. Caravan put on one final play in 1986: Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle which they had first performed in 1970. Ausubel subsequently directed plays for a variety of other theatrical companies, including Union Sister Productions, focusing on plays and companies with feminist or socially-conscious bents. She taught at the Boston Conservatory for a number of years and was also actively involved with the organization That Takes Ovaries!
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Bobbi Ausubel were given to the Schlesinger Library by Bobbi Ausubel between July 2007 and March 2011.
By: Susan Earle, with assistance from Ashley Thomas.
- Experimental theater--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- Feminist theater--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- How to Make a Woman
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Motion pictures
- Poland--Social life and customs--20th century
- Press releases
- Radical theater--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- Scripts (documents)
- Theater programs
- Theatrical companies--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- Theatrical producers and directors--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- Traveling theater
- Web archives
- Women in the performing arts
- Women in the theater
- Women theatrical producers and directors--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- Ausubel, Bobbi. Papers of Bobbi Ausubel, 1965-1990 (inclusive), 1966-1974 (bulk): A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Processing of this collection was made possible by Ware Acquisitions Fund at the Schlesinger Library and the Archival Processing Fund.
- EAD ID
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