Sons of the Prophet

Interview with our Archivist, Tiffany Nixon

Posted on: August 21st, 2014 by Roundabout


Tiffany nixon, Archivist

BroadwayWorld:  When did you start working at Roundabout?

Tiffany Nixon:  I started working for Roundabout in December of 2008.  They had just received funding to start the archives; I came on after they had gone through an initial assessment.

BWW:  And where were you before that?

TN:  I worked on the Doris Duke Project for the New York Public Library, Library for the Performing Arts.

BWW:  When you started it was working on the physical archives, right? Tell us about how that initial process took place…

TN: Roundabout had secured a space in their basement - which had historically been used for tech costumes and hand props – as the only space large enough to house the archives.  Roundabout cleared out the room and installed shelving. I had to hire -I kid you not - a hazmat team who came in and performed major cleaning. It was a major undertaking.

Gorilla Mask and
Suit used in Cabaret, 1998

BWW:  Stop the presses -- did you get to wear one of the suits?

TN: I didn't, but the team that came in did -they couldn't do a regular cleaning because they had to tackle the particulate in the air with a wet cleaning.

It took months to paint and get it ready to house the archives. During that time I set up a processing table and started to interview the people that work for Roundabout, including theatre staff and crews, to figure out what documentation actually survived.

I found documents in offsite prop storage and in the theaters, Gene Feist, the founder of Roundabout, gave some of his documents but the bulk of his materials were donated previously to the New York Public Library (there is a substantial collection of early Roundabout documents in that  collection). Little by little, the archives started to build and it has really come a long way.

BWW:  Has it been a challenge to get people to help? What has the 'buy-in' been like?

TN: Theater companies generally do not keep extensive documentation of their productions – this happens off-Broadway and on Broadway - due to lack of space and staffing. Theater companies, by necessity, are more concerned with programming five years in the future and aren't as concerned with surviving documentation; whereas archives are concerned with the present, five years back, ten years back, etc. and work to make sure that a company's body of work is documented and celebrated.

In the case of Roundabout, much of the early documentation didn't survive due to many physical moves throughout the last 40+ years. We do have a sizable amount of documents from the early years (playbills, photographs, scripts, etc.) but the bulk of the collection covers the 1990s/ Broadway years to the present.

Roy Dotrice, Jonathan Hogan, John Horton and
Daniel Gerroll in The Homecoming.
Photo credit Martha Swope.

BWW:  What's the oldest document that you have in the archives?

TN:  Early incorporation documents from 1965; pamphlets and advertisements from the mid 1960s; and photographs of productions in the 1960s and 1970s.

BWW:  And if somebody's doing research and they want to come in to see the physical archives, is that something that's possible or no?

TN:  It's by appointment only but researchers can absolutely access the collection – especially if the production/subject is not found within the online archives.

BWW:  Now moving on to the digital archives, was the idea there at the beginning, back in 2009 or did that come later?

TN: Definitely. Roundabout wanted a digital archive and it was one of the early goals for the archives project. Roundabout planned to re-launch its website so we decided it was crucial to include the archives on the new site. That said, the archives are relatively new which means that the online archives are still very much a work in progress.  Many of the records are skeleton records that will eventually be fleshed out with extensive cataloguing. It will only get better with time.

BWW:  How actually was the site developed, was it an in-house team or was it one of the outside agencies?

TN:  The Roundabout website was designed and built in collaboration with an outside vendor. The archives microsite was designed and built by Collective Access which is  an open source software cataloging tool used extensively by special collection archives.

Design mold of a griffin
used throughout the historic
Selwyn Theatre renovation

BWW:  How much of the physical archives have now been digitized?

TN:  It's actually a small portion; the browse areas on the site are curated to mainly pull selections, or highlights, from the archives - such as photographs, costumes, productions, etc.  In time, more of our collection will be scanned and made available but the bulk of the collection will remain unscanned but will be available for viewing and research at the physical archive.

BWW:  And are you adding to it on a daily basis, a weekly basis?

TN:  On a weekly basis the system is updated but we add to the catalog daily.

BWW:  How are you handling all the new content that Roundabout generates for all the current and upcoming productions?

TN:  That's a good question.  Many of the documents created are born digital and, like most companies, Roundabout is still devising best practices for capturing and archiving those documents. A large percentage of the documentation comes to the archives in paper form, however, and will remain in paper form.

In terms of paper documentation, once a show closes the production bibles, costumes, marketing materials, etc. show up at the archives for permanent housing.  I work with the general managers of the theatres to orchestrate the movement of materials to ensure that proper retention takes place.

BWW:  And will you be cataloguing things like the use of Twitter and Facebook and social media and websites, as well as the production elements?

TN:  Definitely, in time.  Facebook and all the many other social networking sites contain interesting, topical information about productions, actors, etc. Roundabout's marketing department captures much of that and, yes, it will eventually be cataloged and made available in the archives.

Feather and gold sequin dress
worn by Eartha Kitt in
Roundabout's 2003 production of Nine.

BWW:  What are some of your favorite things that you've found while putting the archives together?

TN:  The costumes are really important to me because they say so much about the production in which they were worn.  Many companies don't have the ability to keep costumes or take them out of rotation, so I am lucky that Roundabout does. Significant pieces – such as Cabaret and Nine costumes - really stand out.

And then I would say the stories and oral history interviews with actors, designers and other collaborators throughout the years, specifically people who have spanned the years as they tend to reveal much about the company and its evolution.  And of course, the ephemera is wonderful - opening night pens that actors give to directors and other tokens that few people get to see but are on display here – those are very special.

BWW:  What has the reaction been so far, both internally and externally, to the new website?

TN:  Really good so far, and I think that will continue to grow as more items are included and more people learn about Roundabout's archives.

I do think that making these documents available online is a great resource: being able to pull up a play, the accompanying production photos, aspects of the production, performance reports, costume sketches, etc. is hugely beneficial to researchers. It's a unique collection.

BWW: Thank you very much for shedding some light on this excited new project – is there anything else that you'd like to share with our audience?

TN:  I do want to stress that the archives are a continuation of Roundabout's larger mission to serve the theatre community through education. I also want to encourage people to use the online catalog and check back frequently for updates and improvements.



To learn more about Roundabout's history and productions, visit our online archives.


Related Categories:
Roundabout Archive, Staff Spotlight

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2012 Award Season

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by Roundabout


* = Winner

Tony Award Nominations:

Don't Dress for Dinner
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play - Spencer Kayden
Best Costume Design of a Play - William Ivey Long

Man and Boy
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play - Frank Langella

The Road to Mecca
Best Lighting Design of a Play - Peter Kaczorowski

Full list of nominees.

Jennifer Tilly, Ben Daniels, and Spencer Kayden in 'Don't Dress for Dinner'; Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2012

Drama Desk Nominations:

Death Takes a Holiday
Outstanding Musical
Outstanding Actor in a Musical – Kevin Earley
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical – Matt Cavenaugh
Outstanding Director of a Musical – Doug Hughes
Outstanding Music – Maury Yeston
Outstanding Lyrics – Maury Yeston
Outstanding Book of a Musical - Thomas Meehan and Peter Stone
Outstanding Costume Design – Catherine Zuber
Outstanding Lighting Design – Kenneth Posner
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical – Jon Weston
Outstanding Orchestrations - Larry Hochman

Sons of the Prophet
Outstanding Actor in a Play – Santino Fontana
Sam Norkin Off Broadway Award – Stephen Karam: The profoundly moving Sons of the Prophet confirmed his status as one of the most promising playwrights of his generation.

The Road to Mecca
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play – Jim Dale

Full list of nominees.

Jim Dale, Carla Gugino, and Rosemary Harris in 'The Road to Mecca'; Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2011

Drama League Nominations:

Sons of the Prophet
Distinguished Performance Award: Santino Fontana

Man and Boy
Distinguished Performance Award: Frank Langella

The Road to Mecca
Distinguished Performance Award: Rosemary Harris

Look Back in Anger
Distinguished Revival of a Play
Distinguished Performance Award: Matthew Rhys

Read the full list of nominees.

Adam Driver, Sarah Goldberg, and Matthew Rhys in 'Look Back in Anger'; Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2012

Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations:

Death Takes a Holiday
Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
Outstanding New Score (Broadway of Off-Broadway)
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical — Rebecca Luker

Sons of the Prophet
*Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play
Outstanding Actor in a Play — Santino Fontana
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play — Joanna Gleason

Don't Dress for Dinner
*Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play — Spencer Kayden
Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical) — William Ivey Long

Read the full list of nominees.

Rebecca Luker, Michael Sibbery and the cast of 'Death Takes a Holiday'; Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2011

New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards:

Sons of the Prophet
*Best Play

Full list of awards.

Lucille Lortel Award Nominations:

Death Takes a Holiday
Outstanding Costume Design — Catherine Zuber

Sons of the Prophet
*Outstanding Play
*Outstanding Lead Actor — Santino Fontana

Look Back in Anger
Outstanding Revival
Outstanding Director — Sam Gold
*Outstanding Featured Actor — Adam Driver
Outstanding Scenic Design — Andrew Lieberman

Read the full list of nominees.

Jonathan Louis Dent, Chris Perfetti, Santino Fontana and Yusef Bulos in 'Sons of the Prophet'; Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2011

Related Categories:
2011-2012 Season, Death Takes A Holiday, Don't Dress for Dinner, Look Back in Anger, Man and Boy, Roundabout News, Sons of the Prophet, The Road to Mecca

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Roundabout Roundup: Looking Back at ‘Sons of the Prophet’

Posted on: January 4th, 2012 by Roundabout


Sons of the Prophet Complete Cast Announced
August 4, 2011

We are pleased to announce the full cast of the New York premiere of Stephen Karam’s new play Sons of the Prophet, directed by Peter DuBois. The cast will feature Yusef Bulos (Bill), Jonathan Louis Dent (Vin), Santino Fontana (Joseph), Joanna Gleason (Gloria), Lizbeth Mackay (Ms. McAndrews), Dee Nelson (Dr. Manor), Chris Perfetti (Charles), Charles Socarides (Timothy).

Read the entire article.

Sons of the Prophet Opens
October 20, 2011

Sons of the Prophet opened to great acclaim on October 20, 2011 at the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, Laura Pels Theatre. 
Read the Review Roundup.

Another Commission for Sons of the Prophet Playwright, Stephen Karam
October 26, 2011

We are pleased to announce a second commission to playwright Stephen Karam following his critically acclaimed first commission of Sons of the Prophet.

Karam’s play Sons of the Prophet is part of our New Play Initiative, a collection of programs, designed to foster and produce new work by emerging and established artists. Since 1995, Roundabout has commissioned 15 playwrights, conducted developmental readings and workshops of over 100 new works, produced 6 Roundabout Underground productions, 30 mainstage productions of new works and employed over 5,000 artists across all aspects of the New Play Initiative.

Read the entire article.

Stephen Karam Blogs for Roundabout

Stephen Karam's blog posts gave us insight into his process: from the first days of putting pen to paper to conceiving the sounds for the show.

“I thought 'Relief' embodied the emotional landscape I was trying to create–emotional and hopeful and sad…but not sentimental (this is my opinion, of course)."


Read Stephen Karam's Blog Posts

Sons of the Prophet Recognized Among Top 10 of 2011 by The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Newsday
December 20, 2011

We are thrilled several Roundabout productions from the past year have landed in multiple “Top 10″ lists of 2011. Check out the lists below for some highlights of “Best of 2011″ coverage!

Read the entire article.

Jonathan Louis Dent, Chris Perfetti, Santino Fontana and Yusef Bulos in 'Sons of the Prophet'; Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2011

Santino Fontana and Sons of the Prophet wants you to let it out!

This video was created in partnership with Brooklyn School for Music and Theatre and Brooklyn School for Global Studies, two of Roundabout Theatre Company's partner high schools. The video was conceived by Santino Fontana who plays Joseph in Stephen Karam's Sons of the Prophet.

Related Categories:
2011-2012 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Roundabout Roundup, Sons of the Prophet, Stephen Karam's Blog

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