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Harvard Theatre Collection Recognized by Boston Theatre Critics Association

Ric Wilson  
Harvard Theatre Collection Curator Fredric Woodbridge Wilson accepted this Elliot Norton Award recognizing the Theatre Collection for its vital role in serving the theater community.

July 2, 2007 – The Boston Theatre Critics Association’s annual Elliot Norton Awards recognize the year’s best work in Boston theater.   Awards are presented for accomplishments in directing, acting, and production, and on occasion a special citation is given to acknowledge other outstanding contributions. This year at the 25th Elliot Norton Awards ceremony, the Harvard Theatre Collection received such recognition for its vital role in serving the theater community.

"The Theatre Collection is used by a wide constituency—scholars, students, practicing designers, directors, and performers—and much of this constituency is international.  We have the kind of materials needed for doing research on the history of a particular play, actor or author. We offer researchers an extensive and very important collection of original manuscripts, artwork, programs, and photographs," says collection Curator Fredric Woodbridge Wilson, who accepted the award certificate at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on May 21.

Almost as important as the materials is the Theatre Collection’s outreach program to the community.  By his own count, Wilson yearly attends more than 150 music, opera, dance, and theater performances—professional and amateur—many of them in Boston. He works with Harvard professors and the students they bring into the Theatre Collection for class instruction, and he also takes students to visit historic Boston-area theaters through the Freshman Arts Program and programs run by the Freshman Dean’s Office. Working also with outside theater organizations and faculty from area colleges like Emerson, Tufts, and the New England Conservatory, Wilson arranges for their interested members and students to visit Harvard’s collection.

"I think it’s important to know your constituency, and to also know what’s going on in the theater world," says Wilson. "I think a connection is made between the Theatre Collection and the Boston community in that way."

According to Wilson, the Harvard Theatre Collection is the only library that has been honored in this way by the Boston Critics Association.  The collection received a similar award several years ago from the Broadway Theater Institute in New York. "It’s very gratifying to be recognized in this way," said Wilson.

The Elliot Norton Awards are named for the drama critic who died in 2003 at the age of 100. Norton wrote for Boston newspapers for 48 years and served as moderator of Elliot Norton Reviews on television (WGBH) from 1958-1982.