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Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Finding Aid/Inventory

Personal Papers


Alley Theatre Papers

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Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers, 1923-1980 | University of Houston Libraries

By Edward Lukasek & Rebecca Russell

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Collection Overview

Title: Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers, 1923-1980

ID: 08/2000-004

Primary Creator: Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Extent: 9.0 Boxes

Subjects: Alley Theatre (Houston, Tex.), Lowry, W. McNeil (Wilson McNeil), 1913-, Performing arts, Theater, Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Forms of Material: Agendas (administrative records), Audiotapes, Clippings (information artifacts), Correspondence, Diaries, Greeting cards, Memorandums, Photographs, Programs (documents), Scrapbooks, Scripts (documents), Sound recordings, Theater programs, Typescripts

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers documents Nina Vance’s career developing and directing the Alley Theatre as well as personal items from her life. The collection is divided into three series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, and Alley Theatre Papers. The collection includes correspondence, production materials, scripts, programs, sound recordings, clippings, speeches, scrapbooks, date books and miscellaneous items such as receipts and ephemera.

Biographical Note

Born in 1914, Nina Vance attended Texas Christian University, Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before coming to Houston as a high school teacher. In 1947, she began a campaign for a resident local theater. The Alley is now one of the nation's leading regional repertory theatres and one of the three oldest resident theatres in the United States.

Nina Vance’s years at the Alley were professionally and personally rewarding.  In 1958, Great Britain sponsored Ms. Vance on a tour of British repertory theatres.  The Ford Foundation awarded her a director’s grant in 1959 and in 1960, President John Kennedy invited her to serve on the advisory committee of the proposed National Cultural Center, which became the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Secretary of State Dean Rusk appointed her to two terms on the U.S. Commission on International Education and Cultural Affairs, the only woman ever to serve.

Vance, along with seven other American directors traveled to the Russia to observe contemporary Soviet theatre in Moscow.  Additional honors include the Matrix Award of Theta Phi, the Outstanding Alumni Award of Texas Southern University and the Houston Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year Award.  Nina Vance died on February 18, 1980 after a long illness at the age of 66 in Houston.  During the Memorial Tribute held in her memory on March 3, 1980, the building was officially renamed: The Nina Vance Alley Theatre.

Subject/Index Terms

Alley Theatre (Houston, Tex.)
Lowry, W. McNeil (Wilson McNeil), 1913-
Performing arts
Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Administrative Information

Repository: University of Houston Libraries

Access Restrictions: Portions of this collection are restricted.

Use Restrictions: Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Acquisition Method:

Donation of Bettye Fitzpatrick, 2001

Donation of Mrs. Walter D. Murphy, 2004

Separated Materials: 3 volume bound copies of Alley Theatre Programs, 1947-1968 available in UH Library Catalog PN2277.H682 A46 v.1-3

Preferred Citation: Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Processing Information:

Edward Lukasek, 2005 

Rebecca Russell, 2008

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1980],
[Series 2: Correspondence],
[Series 3: Alley Theatre Papers],

Series 3: Alley Theatre Papers

This series consists of newspaper clippings, financial statements, daily notes and memos pertaining to the administration of the Alley Theatre.  Also included are typescripts and manuscripts of speeches and articles written by Nina Vance on theatre, art and a proposed book on her life and beginnings of the Alley Theatre. In separate sub-series, correspondence, telegrams, contracts and memos documenting the production of the Russian play Echelon at the Alley Theatre.

After Nina Vance’s death in 1980, a memorial tribute was held and the Alley Theatre building was officially named the Nina Vance Alley Theatre.  Condolences, memos and copies of the tribute program and commemorative book of the tribute are included in this sub-series.

Sub-Series 1: Clippings
Box 4
Folder 1: Alley Theatre Clippings
Folder 2: Alley Theatre Clippings
Folder 3: Clippings
Folder 4: Magazine clippings
Folder 5: Players Magazine “Alley Theatre, Houston,” April-May 1969 whole issue
Box 7
Item 1: Sunday Magazine Supplement “Nina Vance: The Alley’s New Era,” The Houston Chronicle, November 24, 1968
(3 copies)
Item 2: “The New Alley,” Tempo Sunday Magazine, The Houston Post, November 24, 1968
(3 copies)
Item 3: Houston Chronicle Magazine, December 11, 1983
Drawer F.8
OVS_Folder 1: OVS press clippings (2 items)
OVS_Item 1: “Full House Sees Powerful Drama as Remodeled Alley Theatre opens,” The Houston Chronicle, February 9, 1949
OVS_Item 2: Yoakum Herald-Times, February 26, 1980
Sub-Series 2: Financial Statements
Box 4
Folder 6: Financial receipts, undated
Folder 7: Financial statements, undated
Folder 8: Income from Productions, Fiscal 1965-66
Folder 9: Income from Productions, Fiscal 1966-67
Sub-Series 3: Fliers
Box 4
Folder 10: Miscellaneous
Folder 11: Miscellaneous
Sub-Series 4: Ford Foundation grant
Box 4
Folder 12: W. McNeil Lowry clipping, speeches (3 items)
Folder 13: Draft Ford Foundation Report, typescript with corrections
Folder 14: Narrative Report for Ford Foundation Grant, photocopy, 1970
Sub-Series 5: Memos
Box 4
Folder 15: Alley Theatre Productions, 1947-1967, September 1, 1966
Folder 16: Staff retention/recommendations
Folder 17: Memos, undated
Folder 18: Final memos to Nina, January 1980
Sub-Series 6: Notes
Typed notes from Nina Vance’s daily log typed by Iris Siff(?) detailing directing notes, schedule, thoughts and conversations on artistic process and details of Nina Vance’s personal life during rehearsals of Alley Theatre’s production of T.E. Eliot’s A Cocktail Party, 1975-1976.
Box 4
Folder 19: Typescript notes, October 4, 1975-August 26, 1976
Folder 20: Audition notes, undated
Folder 21: Audition notes, undated
Folder 22: Audition notes, undated
Folder 23: Alley Season, 1964-65
Folder 24: Conference/Volunteers of Resident Theatres (CAVORT) with notes
Folder 25: Notebook, holograph
Folder 26: Alley Theatre, notebook
Folder 27: “Notes by Nina Vance for the new Alley Theatre”
Folder 28: [Outline of courses]
Folder 29: Directors Sheet
Sub-Series 7: Photographs
Box 4
Folder 30: Alley Theatre locations
Folder 31: New Alley building
Folder 32: Alley production stills
Sub-Series 8: Productions
Sub-Sub-Series 1: Cast Lists
Box 4
Folder 33: Alley Theatre Productions & Cast List, notebook, undated
Folder 34: Mother Courage, undated
Sub-Sub-Series 2: Scripts
Box 4
Folder 35: Getting Out (Final Performing Version), Nov. 1977
Folder 36: The Three Sisters, undated
Sub-Sub-Series 3: Echelon
In 1977, Nina Vance and seven other American theatre directors were invited by the Soviet Ministry of Culture to visit the Soviet Union and attend contemporary Russian Theatre in Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).  A decision was made to produce the play Echelon, written by Mikhail Roschin and premiered at the Moscow Sovremennik Theatre at the Alley Theatre.  It was the first time a Soviet director was invited to recreate with American actors a play performed for Soviet audiences.  The correspondence, telegrams, contracts and memos in this sub-series document the effort by the Alley Theatre to premiere Echelon at the Alley Theatre.
Box 4
Folder 37: Correspondence: Contracts & Grants
Folder 38: Correspondence: Cultural Affairs
Folder 39: Correspondence: Translation
Folder 40: Opening night celebration
Folder 41: Press Release
Folder 42: International Premiere Program, January 25, 1978
Sub-Series 9: Programs and Publications
Box 4
Folder 43: Moscow, 1976
Folder 44: Miscellaneous
Folder 45: The Alley Coloring Book, 1976
Folder 46: Press pack folder for vice-presidential debate at Alley Theatre, October 15, 1976
(no contents)
Folder 47: Thresholds: the story of Nina Vance’s Alley Theatre, 1968
Box 8
Folder 1: Alley Theatre Production programs, 1947-1976
Sub-Series 10: Works
Speeches, articles, research paper and a dissertation written by Nina Vance and others. This sub-series includes materials relating to a proposed book about the founding and development of the Alley Theatre to be written by William C. Trotman and Nina Vance.
Box 5
Folder 1: Book outline and mock-up covers
Folder 2: Correspondence
Folder 3: Notes, holograph
Folder 4: Notes, holograph
Folder 5: Notes, holograph
Folder 6: Notes, holograph
Folder 7: Research Notes
Folder 8: Typescript draft “On Directing the Play”, Dec. 11, 1970
Folder 9: Transcripts of interviews with notes, May 26, 1971
Folder 10: Transcripts of interviews with notes, May 26, 1971
Folder 11: Transcripts of interviews with notes, May 31, 1971
Folder 12: Transcripts of interviews with notes, May 31, 1971
Folder 13: Transcripts of interviews with notes, June 11, 1971
Folder 14: Transcripts of interviews with notes, June 17, 1971
Folder 15: Transcripts of interviews with notes, June 17, 1971
Folder 16: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 13, 1971
Folder 17: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 14, 1971
Folder 18: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 16, 1971
Folder 19: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 18, 1971
Folder 20: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 20, 1971
Folder 21: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 22, 1971
Folder 22: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 24, 1971
Folder 23: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 27, 1971
Folder 24: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 28, 1971
Folder 25: Transcripts of interviews with notes, July 30, 1971
Folder 26: Transcripts of interviews with notes, August 6, 1971
Folder 27: Transcripts of interviews with notes, August 8, 1971
Folder 28: Transcripts of interviews with notes, August 17, 1971
Folder 29: Multiple dates with holograph corrections
Folder 30: Delta Kappa Gamma International Seminar speech typescript, July 1970
Folder 31: Reporting Day Dinner speech typescript, September 20, 1971
Folder 32: “Woman’s role in a changing world” speech typescript, 1974
Folder 33: Partial draft of speech, with corrections, undated
Folder 34: Contents of “Nina Vance Speeches” binder
Folder 35: “Alley Theatre: first legitimate playhouse on Main Street” typescript
Folder 36: “A Policy Paper for the Administrative Staff,” typescript, May 17, 1967
Folder 37: “From a Director’s Notebook,” holograph draft, July 1967
Folder 38: Typescript draft, February 4, 1970
Folder 39: Typescript draft (articles on the resident ensemble theatre), May 1970
Folder 40: “The Theatre Artist views Philanthropy: a personal observation,” holograph draft
Folder 41: “The Future of the Resident Professional Theatre in America,” AETA Panel,, August 22, 1967
Folder 42: Houston’s Alley Theatre, Robert Morris Treser, Tulane University dissertation, January 1967
Folder 43: “This moment in the Arts,” New Alley Theatre Dedication typescript, W. McNeil Lowry, October 13, 1968
Folder 44: “Nina Vance—Pioneer of Texas Drama,” John O’Neill, April 12, 1969
Folder 45: “To Be or not to Be,” John S. Stehlin, March 2, 1976
Sub-Series 1: Audio Recordings of Interviews
Box 9
Audiotape 1: August 6 (2 copies)
Audiotape 2: August 11 (2 copies)
Audiotape 3: August 13 (2 copies)
Audiotape 4: August 20 (2 copies)
Audiotape 5: August 23 (2 copies)
Audiotape 6: Undated
Audiotape 7: Undated
Compact_Disc 1: August 6
Compact_Disc 2: August 11
Compact_Disc 3: August 13
Compact_Disc 4: August 20
Compact_Disc 5: August 23
Compact_Disc 6: Undated
Sub-Series 11: Nina Vance Memorial Tribute
After the passing of Nina Vance on February 18, 1980, the Alley Theatre prepared a memorial tribute on March 3, 1980 and officially named the building the Nina Vance Alley Theatre.  Condolences, memos and copies of the tribute program and commemorative book of the tribute are included in this sub-series.
Box 5
Folder 46: Condolences
Folder 47: Memos
Folder 48: Memorial tribute commemorative book and program
(4 copies)
Folder 49: “We Remember Nina,” collected personal recollections
Sub-Series 12: Ephemera
Box 6
Item 3: “Nina Vance Producer” nameplate
Item 4: Alley Theatre Twenty-fifth Silver Anniversary Season 1971 coin
Item 5: $10,351.82 check to Alley Theatre plaque

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1980],
[Series 2: Correspondence],
[Series 3: Alley Theatre Papers],

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