William B. Harris Papers

Authored by Bug Thomas

Playbill from The Nutcracker performed by the New York City Ballet at New York State Theatre between November 30-December 31, 1989.

Playbill from The Nutcracker performed by the New York City Ballet at New York State Theatre between November 30-December 31, 1989.

William B. Harris was a dance and drama critic who became particularly interested in New York Theater. He was an editor for newspapers and magazines where he wrote articles, criticisms and reviews of many theatre productions. After his death, his family wished for his collection be saved and used. Now, Marymount Manhattan College became the owner of his extensive collection of playbills, tickets, photographs, and personal notes and writings1. Spanning the decades between the 1960’s and 1990’s, Marymount Manhattan College hosts over 4,450 folders of clippings saved over the years, and categorized into a total of eight genre series­2.

The artifact I chose to work with from the William B. Harris papers was a playbill of The Nutcracker as performed by the New York Ballet City Ballet between November 30th and December 31st 1989. The playbill is from the performance William Harris attended at New York State Theatre. This version of the The Nutcracker features original music from Peter Tschaikovsky and was choreographed by George Blananchine.3 His work on this performance is considered to be “one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory” (George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker). He designed the dance to reflect the mood and themes of the original story by E.T.A Hoffman, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

The image itself is a digitized copy of the front of the playbill. It shows a young girl and young boy later on the floor at her side. The children’s body language gives off a generally dramatic and sad feel while their clothing shows they are proper. Both children wear ballet shows which indicated they are probably the stars of the performance, and shows the entire performance will be dance in a ballet.

When working with this object I used research as well as first hand knowledge from the Mary Brown, the archivist at Marymount Manhattan College, to obtain information on Mr. Harris himself as well as the specific playbill. I was able to look up the history of the play, and how it changed over time and depending on what company and choreographer was used.

 

____________________________

 

[1]Brown, Mary E., William Gardell, and Nick Pavlik. “Addendum to The William Harris Papers.” Marymount Manhattan College. Processed September 8, 2009. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://www.mmm.edu/live/files/97-harrisguideaddendumpdf.

2Brown, Mary E. “The William Harris Papers.” Marymount Manhattan College. Processed October 2, 2001. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://www.mmm.edu/live/files/98-harrisguidepdf.

3New York City Ballet, “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” Last modified Mar 25, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2014. https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/g/george-balanchine-s-the-nutcracker.aspx.

 

 

Bibliography

Brown, Mary E. “The William Harris Papers.” Marymount Manhattan College. Processed October 2, 2001. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://www.mmm.edu/live/files/98-harrisguidepdf.

Brown, Mary E., William Gardell, and Nick Pavlik. “Addendum to The William Harris Papers.” Marymount Manhattan College. Processed September 8, 2009. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://www.mmm.edu/live/files/97-harrisguideaddendumpdf.

New York City Ballet, “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” Last modified Mar 25, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2014. https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/g/george-balanchine-s-the-nutcracker.aspx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *