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Repository: Gallaudet University Archives Call No.: MSS 77Creator: Title: Collection of Hughes Memorial Theatre, 1959-1986Quantity: 3.0 Linear Feet (6 document boxes) Abstract: Note: This document last updated 2005 December 13.
Acquisition Information: Sarah E. Val gave the Hughes Memorial Theatre Collection to the Gallaudet University Archives. The gift was made on July 18, 1989.Processed by: Arlene Blumenthal Kelly. 1996 August 6. Processing Note: Revised by Michael J. Olson. 2001 April 2.Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:
The Frederick H. Hughes Memorial Theatre, also called "Washington's Little Theatre of the Deaf", was organized on June 15, 1966 by Betty G. Miller and a group of fifteen deaf persons. Prior to the newly organization, it was called the Dramatics Guild of the District of Columbia Club of the Deaf. Douglas Burke founded the Dramatics Guild in 1959. He directed the first play called, "The Monkey's Paw" and second play, "Salome", and third play, "The Good Peddler". These plays were performed at the D. C. C. D. clubhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. The fourth play, "Charley Aunt" was performed in the Chapel Hall of Gallaudet College with Gilbert C. Eastman and Charles Schreiber as the directors.
The Dramatics Guild's first president was Alice Hagemeyer presided from 1959 to 1960. Carol Rush was the first recording secretary and Ted Hagemeyer was the treasurer.
Over the years, the Dramatics Guild gave several performances in the D. C. area. There was a citywide tournament sponsored a One-Act play in 1962 and they invited the Dramatics Guild to enter the contest. The Dramatics Guild performed "Lithuania" and Betty G. Miller was the director. They won a third place and Ralph Miller won a medal for the best performer.
The Dramatics Guild presented variety and Christmas shows from 1959 to 1964. The first chairperson was Mrs. Beatrice Burke.
In 1966 the name "Dramatics Guild of the D. C. C. D." was changed to "Hughes Memorial Theatre". All of the founders of the newly named organization had formerly belonged to the Dramatics Guild. They felt that they had recognized the need and desire for an independent amateur theatre of the deaf. The charter was developed primarily to provide entertainment, such as drama, pantomime, revues, etc, for the deaf and hearing people in the Washington metropolitan area. Also, the Hughes Memorial Theatre's aim was to encourage the cultural development of deaf persons in acting, directing, staging, scriptwriting, theatre and costume design, make-up, and related arts through experimentation research, and education.
The Hughes Memorial Theatre was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization on June 12, 1969.
The meetings of the organization were held in the Hall Memorial Building on the campus of Gallaudet College between 1966 and 1969. Sometimes they had to meet off campus when the facilities on the campus were not available. On August 6, 1969 they were given a space for use in Kendall Hall on the campus until in the mid 1970s.
The Hughes Memorial Theatre presented many plays from 1966 until the last play was performed in 1982. They produced two major plays during each season: one in the fall and one in the spring. They also performed on One-Act Play Tournament sponsored by the District of Columbia's Department of Recreation every spring. They won several awards from the tournaments.
In 1980 the Hughes Memorial Theatre produced and directed a play called, "Tales from a Clubroom" which were successfully hailed as seen by deaf people and deaf organizations. The last play, "Oh, Stop! Oh, Stop!" was performed for the alumni reunion that was held on the campus of Gallaudet College during the summer of 1982.
Scope and Content
The Hughes Memorial Theatre Collection consist of correspondence, constitution and by laws, reports, flyers, program books, memorandums, certificates, announcements, minutes, financial reports, clippings, reviews, previews, scripts, and articles. Douglas Burke established the Dramatics Guild of the District of Columbia Club of the Deaf in 1959. In 1966, Elizabeth G. Miller and a group of interested deaf persons organized the Frederick H. Hughes Memorial Theatre in honor of Frederick H. Hughes who was a drama teacher at Gallaudet College.
The collection, which consists of approximately 5,100 pages, dates from 1959 to 1986. The bulk of the collection consists of scripts of the plays. The bulk dates are mostly between 1966 and 1980, which was centered on the scripts. The strength of the collection is centered mostly on the history of the theatre and also on the scripts of the plays.
The largest subject of the collection is focused on the plays performed by the Hughes Memorial Theatre. The plays were performed in the District of Columbia metropolitan area between 1959 and 1982. Many of the alumni of Gallaudet University and local deaf people were involved in the plays for the audience's enjoyment.
The collection includes the minutes of the meetings from 1966 to 1979. Correspondence from 1960 to 1986 is included in this collection.
The most interesting item in the collection is a letter from Patricia Nixon, wife of President Richard Nixon, for her acceptance as an honorary board of members of the Hughes Memorial Theatre.
Series 1: Dramatics Guild of the D. C. C. D. FileBox 1
The Dramatics Guild of the D. C. C. D. was founded in 1959. In this series are correspondence, constitution and by laws, reports, flyers, history, and program books. Included in this collection contains a short history of the organization.
Series 2: Hughes Memorial Theatre FileBoxes 2-3
In this collection consists of correspondence, constitution and by laws, memorandums, certificates, announcements, minutes, clippings, program books and reports. These are general file of the organization. A history of the theatre is included.
Series 3: Plays FileBoxes 3-6
Included in this collection are scripts of the plays, flyers, reviews, previews, articles, program books and financial reports. This collection is the largest file related to the plays performed by the Hughes Memorial Theatre.
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