NOTE: All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Several days' advance notice is required for retrieval.
The Alvin Epstein collection includes manuscripts, correspondence, personal memorabilia, printed materials, professional materials, legal materials, financial materials, audio materials, film and video materials, photographs, notebooks, medical records, and other materials.
Manuscripts in the collection consist of scripts used by Epstein during various productions over the last five decades. The series also contains screenplays, memoirs, librettos, novel drafts, and stage plays; some material is by Epstein, but mostly by others. The comprehensive collection, over 200 in number, document Epstein's prolific participation in plays by Beckett, Brecht, Camus, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Shakespeare, and Strindberg. Many of Epstein's scripts contain holograph annotations. Musical scores, such as "The Beggar's Opera," "The Berlin Requiem," "Casino Paradise," "Seven Deadly Sins," and "War Show," are also present.
The collection includes general correspondence between the 1940s and the 2000s. Notables include Kathy Bates, Jimmy Carter, Martha Schlamme, Orson Welles, and the Communist Party of America. Letters and postcards regarding Yale (1975-1977) and Israel (1952-1955) are collected, as well. Correspondence is often accompanied by photographs and original artwork.
Personal memorabilia in the collection includes many production-related items, such as a plastic swine, eyelash and eyebrow masque, a "3 Penny Opera" handmade ceramic tile, and a Macbeth banner, in addition to pins and a "Sampson Epstein, MD" plaque. Items from Epstein's family are also collected, including a "Vets for Peace in Vietnam" hat, the last will and testament of his great grandfather, genealogical reports, and German mortgage documents (1819). Awards in this series include a reward of the jade bridge from the Yale School of Drama (1976), the “Torch of Hope” from the Barbara Bardondess Theatre Lab Non-Profit Foundation (1994), and the Jason Robards Award for dedication to the theatre (2001). Primary school writings, original artwork, and other juvenilia constitute additional memorabilia.
Printed materials collected between 1940 and 2013 consist of programs and playbills, various newspapers, magazines, maps, bulletins, flyers and brochures, play scripts, and music scores, among other items. Of particular note is a 1941 Othello program from Munich marked with a Nazi swastika symbol.
Professional materials in the collection pertain to Epstein's career in the American Repertory Theatre and include reviews, scores, scripts, notes, correspondence, printed materials, legal materials, photographs, artwork, and audio material. Notables include materials regarding Endgame, Richard II, As You Like It (2009), and The Tempest (2010), as well as numerous files on Beckett. Business cards, address books, and various planners are present, alongside press kits, contact sheets, production notes, biographies, workshop materials, and military documents, among other items.
The collection's legal materials consist of insurance agreements, passports, military materials, contracts, licenses, and legal correspondence. Military transfer requests and Actors Equity Association Contracts for Postmark Zero, the Yale Repertory Theatre, and America's Story Theatre are also present. Material in this series dates from the 1940s to 2013.
The collection includes assorted financial materials, such as invoices, receipts, health insurance, retirement plans, toll tickets, and cancelled checks.
Audio materials consist of cassette tapes and 1/4" reel-to-reel tapes. Recorded cassettes include numerous Martha Schlamme performances at the Yale Cabaret, "Nero Sings," "Collette," and others. Reel-to-reel taps include foreign folk songs, Newport Folk Festival recordings, and additional Schlamme performances.
Film and video materials consist primarily of VHS tapes. Recorded items include Eh Joe and Ghost Trio at Zero Church Street; tapes of The Dick Cavett Show, pertaining to the songs of Kurt Weill; and Cathy, Beth-Ann and Al reels (2000).
Photographs in the collection include black and white portraits of Epstein, assorted production-related prints and slides, and black and white prints and negatives regarding art, architecture, and Epstein's personal life, such as family and vacation photographs. Oversized photographic materials include a director's portrait of Epstein, black and white production prints from the American Repertory Theatre and the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and prints from "Boy Meets Girl," "A Kurt Weill Cabaret," "Martha Schlamme In Concert," and "Old Times." There is also an album regarding The Tempest, which features Kevin Spacey. Other notable subjects include Yvonne Constant, Marlene Dietrich, Edward Herrmann, William H. Macy, Martha Schlamme, Sigourney Weaver, and Dianne West.
Notebooks in the collection date from 1950 to 1978. Notebooks document Epstein's second trip to Cuba and assorted Beckett materials. Multiple untitled items are also collected.
The collection contains assorted medical records, including progress notes, discharge notes, emergency room reports, prescriptions, and disease prevention pamphlets.
A wide range of artwork is included in the collection, such as holiday cards, handmade posters, watercolors, and pencil and ink sketches. Collected artwork is both personal and professional in nature, and includes oversized materials. Also present are set design sketches from Dido and Aeneas, Die Fledermaus, and Machiavelli's Madrogola.
Miscellaneous materials consist primarily of oversized items. Of particular note are numerous A.R.T . posters, a proof of Epstein's autobiography, and a petition urging President Nixon to end the Vietnam War.