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Department of Theatre Records

Identifier: U100


Collection contains correspondence, playbills, programs, photographs, productions, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, film negatives, scripts, staging directions, brochures, annual reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, memos, costume designs, props, administrative files, press releases, and academic accreditation related to the Department of Theatre at the University of Denver from 1951 through 1982.


  • Other: 1934-1984


Biographical / Historical

The department to theater was established in 1929, as the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts although the first classes were not offered until the 1930 academic year . The department was first headed by Dr. Maurice Gnesin who also served as the Director of the University Civic Theater. The department shared facilities with the newly created theater company, though the two were run as almost completely separate entities.

In 1927 Mrs. Verner Zee Reed donated $100,000 towards the building of Margery Reed Mayo Hall named for her daughter. The building was completed in 1929 and contains a theater whose use was shared by the University Civic Theater, the Drama Club, and the newly created department of theater. The creation of the University Civic Theater, and the building of the Little Theater to be used by the department, was largely possible the donations of several prominent Denver residents including Mrs. Verner Z Reed, Miss Florence Martin, Miss Helen Bonfils, and Mr. James H. Causey. At the start of the building project Mr. Causes donated an initial $19, 262.10 to the university for stage and electrical equipment. He also agreed to underwrite the budget for the Little Theatre stating:

“It is my understanding that so far as my relationship is concerned, a budget will be prepared for the expenses of the Little Theater and that the University would contribute the theatre, through the Dramatic Department, without any cost, and that in additional they would probably pay some nominal amount toward the budget covering the services of Dr. Gnesin because of his heading up the Dramatic Department of the University.”

Dr. Maurice Gnesin was hired to serve as the first Director of the University Civic Theater and hold the position of Professorship of Dramatic Art, and “titular” head of the theater department. He was paid a starting salary of $5000. Students could obtain three degrees from the department when it first opened, these included Dramatic Arts, Speech A (public speaking) Speech B (Oral interpretation).

The University Civic Theater left the university in 1953 having officially separated themselves from the school financially in 1951. The department continued on as academic unit at the university until it was cut in 1984 due to university wide budget cuts.


45 Linear Feet


The collection is unarranged.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428