The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts celebrates its Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, which launched in 1970, in a new exhibition, Focus Center Stage: 50 Years of the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.
The exhibition, which opens July 14 and continues through February 25, 2023, was originally planned for 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Spanning two floors of the Library, the exhibition features excerpts from the many productions the division has filmed, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions, as well as interviews with theatre professionals and behind-the-scenes photos.
Attendees can expect to view the work of Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Meredith Willson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeanine Tesori, Lorraine Hansberry, Tennessee Williams, Martin McDonagh, Lynn Nottage, and Paula Vogel, among others.
“With literally thousands of productions from which to select, it was a truly daunting task to curate this exhibition,” said Patrick Hoffman, who has served as director and curator of TOFT since 2001, in a recent statement. “First and foremost, we wanted to feature and demonstrate the depth and breadth of our TOFT Archive and its phenomenal collection of video recordings of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions. None of these recordings would have been possible without the incredible support of the theatre community as a whole, the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds, producers, playwrights, directors, choreographers, designers, actors, orchestra musicians, company managers, production stage managers, and stagehands, as well as the TOFT staff and talented video crews whose work makes TOFT’s mission possible. Fifty years of hard work has happened behind-the-scenes to make all of this happen, and I am proud to finally raise the curtain on Focus Center Stage at the Library for the Performing Arts.”
The exhibition also includes a remembrance of TOFT founder, Betty L. Corwin, who convinced The New York Public Library, the theatrical unions and guilds, and creative artists, to realize her vision to record live theatre performance for future generations.
TOFT's collection consists of over 5,000 plays, musicals, classics, experimental and avant-garde productions, and an additional 3,000 videos of interviews, dialogues, film and TV adaptations, award presentations, and other theatre-related programs. Visitors can access recordings in the Lucille Lortel screening room on the third floor of the Library for the Performing Arts for free with a New York Public Library card.
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