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Alan Schneider Papers MSS 103
MSS 103  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Publication Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Alan Schneider Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 103
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 42.2 Linear feet 67 archives boxes, 5 records cartons, 11 card file boxes and 37 oversize folders
    Date (inclusive): 1937 - 2001
    Abstract: Papers of Alan Schneider, a prominent director in contemporary American theater. For many productions, the director's prompt book provides Schneider's conceptual notes, analysis of theme and characters, and notes on direction. The collection contains correspondence between Schneider and actors, writers and directors, including Edward Albee, Robert Anderson, Zelda Fichandler, William Saroyan, and Tennessee Williams. Absent from the collection is original correspondence between Schneider and Samuel Beckett and the collection contains only a small amount of photocopies of correspondence between Schneider and Beckett. Schneider's writings, speeches and interviews are well documented in the collection. The accession processed in 1997 contains the editorial files of Franklin Heller for Schneider's autobiography entitled ENTRANCES. The accessions processed in 2003 contain early and professional writings by Schneider, post-theatre production notes, journals, scrapbooks, photographs, and audiocassette recordings. The accession processed in 2008 contains scrapbooks ranging in date from 1948-1984 and one folder of newspaper clippings.
    Creator: Alan , Schneider

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available


    The recordings in the collection are restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced. Also, the original director's prompt books for the 1957 production of WAITING FOR GODOT and the 1958 production of ENDGAME are restricted due to their fragile condition. Photocopies of these prompt books are filed with production materials and are available to the researcher. Original typescripts by Samuel Beckett located in box 74 are restricted and photocopies are available for research. Requests for permission to view the original copies may be directed to the Manuscripts Librarian, Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California, San Diego.

    Preferred Citation

    Alan Schneider Papers, MSS 0103. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.


    Alan Schneider was born Abram Leopoldovich Schneider on December 12, 1917, in Kharkov, Russia. When the Russian Revolution spread to Kharkov, the Schneiders immigrated to the United States in 1923. His parents, Leo Victor Schneider and Rebecka Malkin Schneider, were both physicians specializing in tuberculosis. They later practiced together at the Maryland State Tuberculosis Sanitorium in Sabillasville, Maryland. Schneider attended high school in Baltimore and began staging productions at summer camp. Schneider entered Johns Hopkins University and studied physics for one year, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to major in political science and literature. He was an award-winning member of the student debate team and president of the college drama group. In 1939 he was awarded a B.A. degree magna cum laude and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Returning to Baltimore, Schneider worked as a radio announcer and as a speech writer for Postmaster General James A. Farley. He won a fellowship to Cornell University to study drama and received a master's degree in 1941.
    During the period 1941-1952, Schneider taught in the Speech and Theater Department of the Catholic University of America. He directed a wide range of contemporary and classical plays, including JIM DANDY in 1941, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST and THE CHERRY ORCHARD. At Catholic University, Walter Kerr was Schneider's colleague. During the war years, Schneider worked at the U.S. Office of War Information, where he produced a film promoting War Bonds sales, and he also served with the Public Health Service and the Treasury Department. In 1944 Schneider performed in a Broadway production, playing a G.I. in Maxwell Anderson's STORM OPERATION.
    In these years he established the pattern that would continue throughout his directing career: alternating academic productions with commercial assignments. Schneider joined the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., during its formative years in the late 1940s. Working with Zelda Fichandler, he directed such works as THE GLASS MENAGERIE (1951), DESIRE UNDER ELMS (1952) and THE COUNTRY GIRL (1953) at Arena Stage. In 1953 he directed THE REMARKABLE MR. PENNYPACKER on Broadway and ANASTASIA the following year.
    In 1956 Schneider began a lifelong association with Samuel Beckett, directing the first U.S. production of WAITING FOR GODOT at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, starring Bert Lahr. The play was heavily criticized and misunderstood at the time, labeled "atheistic and communistic" by critics. Schneider persevered in bringing Beckett's work to the American public. All subsequent American premieres of Beckett's plays were directed by Schneider.
    Schneider also established a long association with Edward Albee, directing THE AMERICAN DREAM in 1961 and the award-winning WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? in 1963. Schneider also staged Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE, THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE, TINY ALICE, and others. Schneider worked closely with Harold Pinter, directing several of his plays, including THE DUMBWAITER, THE COLLECTION, and THE BIRTHDAY PARTY. As a proponent of innovative theater and new talent, Schneider staged a wide range of dramatic works, including those by Robert Anderson, Bertolt Brecht, Michael Weller and Thornton Wilder.
    In 1964 Schneider directed FILM, a movie written by Beckett and starring Buster Keaton. Beckett visited the U.S. to supervise the production and worked closely with Schneider to create this award-winning film.
    Throughout his career as a director, Schneider was committed to teaching and directing student productions. He served as assistant professor of speech and drama at the Catholic University of America from 1941 to 1952 and as professor of theatre arts at Boston University from 1972 to 1979. Schneider was the director of the Juilliard School Theatre Center from 1975 to 1979. From 1979 until the time of his death he was professor of drama and head of the graduate directing department at the University of California, San Diego.
    Schneider received numerous awards during his career as a director. In 1949 he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Grant for the study of European theater. Later, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for the study of open stage and a Ford Foundation Director's Grant for work in regional theater. In 1963 he received the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for his direction of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, the Village Voice Off-Broadway (Obie) Award for directing THE DUMBWAITER and THE COLLECTION and the Washington (D.C.) Board of Trade Award "for outstanding contribution to professional community theater in the nation's capital as production director of Arena Stage."

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Accessions Processed in 1991
    The Alan Schneider Papers provide extensive documentation of the career of the American theater director who staged the U.S. premiere of WAITING FOR GODOT and gained wide recognition for his productions of innovative dramatic works. The materials in the collection date from 1937 to 1984. The Schneider Papers are organized in ten series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) PRODUCTION MATERIALS, 4) SUBJECT FILES, 5) TEACHING MATERIALS, 6) WRITINGS, 7) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 8) PHOTOGRAPHS, 9) SOUND RECORDINGS, and 10) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS include newspaper and magazine articles about Schneider published during the years 1957 to 1980. Many articles relate to Schneider's work with Samuel Beckett and are a good source of biographical information about both men. A large number of obituaries published at the time of Schneider's death in 1984 reflect the wide respect he had attained internationally.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series includes individual files and collected correspondence. Individual correspondence is arranged alphabetically and collected correspondence is arranged by subject. This series contains correspondence between Schneider and prominent figures in the world of theater. Noteworthy correspondents include: Edward Albee, 1961-1964; Robert Anderson, 1956-1967; Hume Cronyn, 1970-1984; Zelda Fichandler, 1952-1959 (photocopies); John Gielgud, 1966-1971; William Saroyan, 1941 (photocopies); and Tennessee Williams, 1952. Absent from the collection is original correspondence between Schneider and Samuel Beckett. The collection contains a minimal amount of photocopies of correspondence between Schneider and Beckett. The Beckett correspondence file contains copies of the letter of condolence written at the time of Schneider's father's death and the last letter Schneider wrote to Beckett. A small amount of correspondence (photocopied) from Beckett is filed with Grove Press correspondence. Additional correspondence between Schneider and Beckett can be found in the Production Materials for FILM (1964). Note that correspondence relating to specific productions is filed with Production Materials.
    Collected Correspondence contains scrapbooks of letters assembled by Schneider. Included are notes and letters from Harold Clurman, Edith Evans, Henry Fonda, Eva Gabor, John Gielgud, George Grizzard, Elia Kazan, Joshua Logan, Lawrence Olivier, Geraldine Page, Harold Pinter, Rod Steiger, Peter Ustinov, and Tennessee Williams.
    This sub-series also contains letters of congratulations and thanks collected by Schneider and a file of letters of condolence written at Schneider's death. One such letter, from Harold Pinter, is of special interest.
    PRODUCTION MATERIALS contain extensive documentation of the numerous productions directed by Schneider, spanning the years 1938 to 1984. This series is arranged by year and by individual production. These materials were collected by Schneider in the course of his career and include cast sheets, correspondence, contracts, director's prompt books, notes, photos, playbills, programs, sets and scene designs. Of special value are the director's prompt books, which contain notes by Schneider on theme, character, movement, and line readings. Prompt books for premiere productions of Beckett plays provide insight into Schneider's analysis and interpretation of these works. Correspondence between Schneider and authors, producers and others may be found in the production materials of individual plays. Productions which are well-documented include:
    1941 -- JIM DANDY - Correspondence with William Saroyan analyzing play, promptbook heavily annotated, photographs of set.
    1949 -- MY HEART'S IN THE HIGHLANDS - Correspondence from Schneider describing his hopes and plans.
    1952 -- PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA - Director's notes with comments and analysis.
    1953 -- ALL SUMMER LONG - Correspondence from Robert Anderson regarding problems with play.
    1955 -- SKIN OF OUR TEETH - Correspondence including opening night telegrams from Thornton Wilder and Schneider's wife, Jean.
    1956 -- WAITING FOR GODOT (American Premiere) - Arbitration file with correspondence and legal documents pertaining to the Schneider vs. Myerberg suit. Correspondence: Between Michael Myerberg and Schneider, from Tom Ewell and Bert Lahr to Schneider, from William Saroyan to Myerberg commenting on the title and meaning of the play, why there are no women in the play, and suggesting Clark Gable for the role of Estragon. Telegram from Samuel Beckett. Director's prompt book with interpretive notes on nearly every page.
    1958 -- ENDGAME (American Premiere) - Casting notes annotated by Schneider, correspondence with Beckett: transcriptions typed and annotated by Schneider, director's notes with reviews annotated by Schneider, photographs: one folder in good condition.
    1960 -- KRAPP'S LAST TAPE (American Premiere) - Correspondence: humorous letter from Charles Laughton declining role, director's prompt book heavily annotated, published scripts annotated by Schneider.
    1961 -- AMERICAN DREAM - Director's prompt book containing analytical notes.
    1961 -- HAPPY DAYS (American Premiere) - Director's prompt book with interpretive notes on theme and direction.
    1962 -- WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (Premiere) - Director's notes analyzing content of play and individual characters and photographs.
    1962 -- THE COLLECTION - Director's prompt book autographed by Harold Pinter anda annotated by Schneider. Photographs.
    1963 -- BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE - Director's prompt book with notes on concept and direction.
    1964 -- WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? - Notes by Schneider to actors, script changes for British production indicating the censorship of disallowed dialogue.
    1964 -- TINY ALICE - Director's prompt book with analytical notes and notes on concept and theme.
    1964 -- FILM - Correspondence with Beckett (photocopies) and shooting scripts annotated by Schneider.
    1966 -- A DELICATE BALANCE - Director's Notes analyzing themes.
    1967 -- YOU KNOW I CAN'T HEAR YOU WHEN THE WATER'S RUNNING - Correspondence with Robert Anderson (two folders), director's notes, extensive.
    1967 -- THE BIRTHDAY PARTY - Director's prompt book autographed by Pinter with notes by Schneider analyzing characters.
    Director's prompt book, annotated.
    1972 -- NOT I (World Premiere) - Director's prompt book with conceptual notes.
    1976 -- THAT TIME AND FOOTFALLS (American Premiere) - Director's notes on interpretation.
    1979 -- LOOSE ENDS - Director's prompt book analyzing all characters'
    roles and purpose. Detailed, well-organized.
    SUBJECT FILES contain a variety of materials collected by Schneider, including autographed playbills, posters, a scrapbook of reviews, the covers of original director's prompt books and materials about Samuel Beckett. The Beckett Materials include notes by Schneider on his visits with Beckett and a photocopy of the notebook kept by Beckett as director of the 1975 production of WAITING FOR GODOT.
    TEACHING MATERIALS incorporate lecture notes and outlines, student compositions, annotated scripts of student productions, and other materials gathered by Schneider in his role as professor of drama and theater at the Catholic University of America, the Juilliard School and the University of California, San Diego. These materials date from 1941 to 1984 and are arranged chronologically.
    The WRITINGS series encompasses essays and articles written by Schneider as well as interviews and speeches. The writings date from 1937 to 1984 and are arranged chronologically. The early essays include themes on World War II and experimental theater. Also included are speeches written by Schneider for Postmaster General James Farley. Correspondence and manuscripts for Schneider's autobiography, ENTRANCES, are extensive. The Speeches subseries contains notes and typescripts by Schneider revealing his thoughts on avant-garde theater and the future of the theater in America. Interviews consist of published transcriptions of Schneider's responses to questions about theater and directing.
    WRITINGS OF OTHERS involve scripts, short stories and essays written by a variety of authors including Samuel Beckett. Contained here is a good collection of Beckett scripts, including French and English versions of MERCIER ET CAMIER. Four of the Beckett scripts are annotated by the author. Numerous essays about Beckett are found in this series under "Beckett Book."
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series contains photographs of Schneider, Beckett, various actors, and productions not directed by Schneider. Schneider is photographed with Beckett, Albee, Pinter, Miller and others. Many of the actors' photographs are autographed.
    SOUND RECORDINGS incorporate a wide variety of audio tapes collected by Schneider. Included are lectures and oral presentations by Harold Pinter, Lee Strasberg, Arthur Miller and others. Tapes of productions and musical recordings complete this series.
    The ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES series contains original items with high acid content which have been photocopied and segregated at the end of the collection.
    Accession Processed in 1997
    The accession processed in 1997 contains Franklin Heller's editorial files related to Alan Schnieder's autobiography entitled ENTRANCES (New York, 1986). The materials include Heller's correspondence regarding ENTRANCES, materials related to the production of ENTRANCES, cassette tapes of conversations between Franklin Heller and Schneider, tapes of radio broadcasts about Schneider, and some biographical material on Schneider. The materials span the years 1956-1989 with the bulk of the accession dating from the 1980s. The accession is arranged in four series: 11) CORRESPONDENCE, 12) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 13) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, and 14) AUDIOCASSETTES.
    The bulk of the first series, CORRESPONDENCE, consists of letters between Franklin Heller and people connected to the publication of ENTRANCES between 1975 and 1988. Also included is correspondence between Franklin Heller and Alan Schneider that span the years 1975-1984. Of particular interest is a copy of a letter written by Samuel Beckett to Alan Schneider in 1956 from Paris. This series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
    The second series, BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, contains items related to the life and work of Alan Schneider. The series includes articles written by Schneider, biographical information copied from reference books, obituaries, and photographs of Schneider. The materials span the years 1976-1984 and are arranged alphabetically by subject.
    The third series, MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, contains items related to Alan Schneider's book ENTRANCES. Included in this series are the royalty statements, book reviews, drafts of the foreward written by Edward Albee, and the contract with Viking Press. Of particular interest is Schneider's original proposal for the book. These items span the years 1980-1987 and are arranged alphabetically by subject.
    In the fourth series are AUDIOCASSETTES. This series contains audiotapes of telephone conversations between Heller and Franklin in July and August of 1983. The two discuss the purpose of the autobiography both from Schneider's perspective and from that of the editors of Viking Books. Also included is a commentary by Adrianne Rich of the NEW YORK TIMES on ENTRANCES. Rich specifically comments on its readability and what it exposes about American theater. There is also a recording of a memorial to Schneider done by National Public Radio in 1984.
    Accessions Processed in 2003
    The accessions processed in 2003 contain early and professional writings by Schneider, post-theatre production notes, journals, photographs, scrapbooks, and audiocassette recordings. Materials about Alan Schneider after his death in 1984 include correspondence by Eugenie Schneider regarding plays dedicated to the memory of Alan Schneider, materials regarding the BECKETT PROJECT, Alan Schneider Conference materials (1990), and Schneider's autobiography ENTRANCES (1986).
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series is arranged in alphabetical order and contains materials relating to the life and professional work by Alan Schneider. The series consists of articles about Schneider and Beckett, biographical statements, clippings about Schneider, high school memorabilia, and teaching contracts with the Catholic University. Additional materials includes the 1990 Alan Schneider Conference papers and the Alan Schneider Distinguished Directors Fund (1995).
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in two subseries: A) Alan Schneider and B) Eugenie Schneider.
    A) The correspondence of Alan Schneider includes letters (1951-1981) from Zelda Fichandler of the Arena Stage, as well as Schneider's letters to the Ford Foundation from 1962-1974 which detail activities of his many theatre productions.
    B) The correspondence by Eugenie Schneider, spaning the years 1984-2002, includes letters regarding Alan Schneider's letters to and from Samuel Beckett, the BECKETT PROJECT, and plays dedicated to the memory of Alan Schneider.
    The WRITINGS BY ALAN SCHNEIDER is arranged in six subseries: A) Journals, B) Cornell University Term Papers and Notes, C) Essays and Reviews, D) Theatre Post-Production Notes, E) Lectures and Talks, and F) Interviews.
    A) The Journals subseries, arranged chronologically, dates from 1956-1982 and contains mainly travel journals of his trips to Europe. Also included are notebooks and handwritten notes on loose notepad paper regarding acting and theatre productions.
    B) The Cornell University Term Papers and Notes subseries, arranged chronologically, contains college term papers and notes from 1940-1941.
    C) The Essays and Reviews subseries, arranged chronologically, spans the years 1944-1999 and contains professional writings by Schneider which include newspaper and magazine articles, essay drafts, an original typescript of the autobiography ENTRANCES, theatre reviews, "Water logs" for the production YOU KNOW I CAN'T HEAR YOU WHEN THE WATER'S RUNNING, and notes.
    D) The Theatre Post-Production Notes subseries, arranged chronologically, contains notes by Schneider, clippings, programs, as well as notes from others.
    E) The Lectures and Talks subseries spans the years 1969-1981. Arranged in chronological order, the materials include a list of lectures given by Schneider, notes and brochures. Audiorecordings of selected lectures are located in Series 21B: Audiocassette Recordings.
    F) The Interviews subseries, arranged chronologically, contains transcripts of interviews with Alan Schneider. The interviews span the years 1966-1978 and include correspondence, handwritten notes, clippings, and photocopies of published interviews. Audiorecordings of selected interviews are located in Series 21A: Audiocassette Recordings.
    The WRITINGS BY OTHERS series, arranged alphabetically by author, includes four Beckett scripts annotated by the author.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series is organized in three subseries: A) Alan Schneider, B) Alan Schnedier with Others, and C) Theatre Productions.
    The photographs include formal and informal portraits of Schneider, largely black-and-white prints and photographs of Schneider with others, including Edward Albee, Samuel Beckett, Zelda Fichandler, and John Gielgud. Also included are images of scenes and casts from threatre productions that are arranged alphabetically by title of production.
    The SCRAPBOOKS series contains collections of memorabilia complied by Schneider over the years 1938-1980. Arranged in chronological order, the scrapbooks document threatre productions and contain newspaper clippings, published articles and reviews, black-and-white photographs, notes, programs, correspondence, and loose materials.
    The AUDIOCASSETTE RECORDINGS series, spaning the years 1955-1984, is arranged in four subseries: A) Interviews with Alan Schneider, B) Lectures and Talks, C) Theatre Productions, and D) Miscellaneous.
    A) The Interviews with Alan Schneider subseries is arranged alphabetically by the person or organization giving the interview. Alan Schneider appears in formal and informal interviews, including NBC News with Edward Newman and New York radio talk show "In the Critic Circle." Also included are one-on-one interviews conducted by Marion Hodges, Sheila Hickey and Alix Jeffery. Transcripts from interviews by Marion Hodges are located in Series 17F: Writings by Alan Schneider.
    B) The Lectures and Talks subseries, arranged alphabetically by title of talk or institution where the talk was presented, contains audiorecordings of 1973 and 1975 class lecture series and formal and informal addresses by Schneider.
    C) The Theatre Productions subseries, also arranged alphabetically by title, includes audiorecordings of the Director's Unit and discussions regarding theatre productions. Also included are two cassette recordings of MY LIFE IN ART.
    D) The Miscellaneous subseries contains audiorecordings on subjects not directly related to Alan Schneider and his works.
    The ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES series contains original items from the collection which have high levels of acid content. These papers have been photocopied and segregated at the end of the collection.
    Clipping scrapbooks organized by performance.
    Additions to the Alan Schneider papers, 1926-1984. Includes correspondence, clippings, artwork, research and subject files, play programs, playscripts, and audio visual materials.
    Oversize materials are located in the stacks at MSCL.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Albee, Edward, 1928-
    Anderson, Robert Woodruff, 1917-
    Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989
    Bentley, Eric, 1916-
    Cronyn, Hume
    Fichandler, Zelda
    Gielgud, John, 1904-2000
    Heller, Franklin, -- correspondent
    Pinter, Harold, 1930- -- Birthday party. -- Prompt book
    Saroyan, William, 1908-1981, -- correspondent
    Saroyan, William, 1908-1981. -- Jim Dandy. -- Prompt book
    Schneider, Alan -- Archives
    Schneider, Alan. -- Entrances
    University of California, San Diego -- Faculty -- Archival resources
    University of California, San Diego -- History -- Archival resources
    University of California, San Diego. Theatre Dept..
    Weller, Michael, 1942- -- Loose ends. -- Prompt book
    Theater -- Production and direction -- History
    Theater -- Production and direction -- Study and teaching
    Theatrical producers and directors -- Biography