Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Third Rule of Archiving: Save the Original


Handset program from Mother Hubbard performed at the Caffe Cino
complete with hand drawing

Many times we want the public to only see the final, finished, polished product. However, there is value in the process and saving the original can be as informative as the completed item.

For example a final script is a wonderful item to include in an archive file for a production, but the rehearsal script might be just as important. It could include notes about characters or line changes that provide an intimate glimpse into the playwright's process. Handwritten notes between production staff might bring to light an amusing anecdote. These types of personal imprints make the collection much more immediate and accessible.

A designer may have created a piece that was then copied and reprinted for use during performances. While it is great to have the performance version, the original work with it's glued on pieces, whited out corrections and magic marker details can provide insight into how it was constructed and might show nuances that the reprinted version can not.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you never know how meaningful or valuable something might be down the road. Many props or backdrops for example, are in reality original works of art.

"We have show posters that were painted by people who weren’t even artists at the time but later went on to became very important."
                         ~ Ozzie Rodriguez, Director of the Archive at La MaMa

TIP: Make sure originals are clearly labeled as "ORIGINAL" to avoid inadvertently discarding or otherwise losing track of it.

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