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Journal of American Drama & Theatre





Archiving a Life in Theatre: The Legacy of Michael Feingold

Interview with James C. Nicola, Tanya Elder, and Diego Daniel Pardo


Published on 

June 6, 2024

Headshot of Michael Feingold from 1973. Photo: William Baker. Courtesy Feingold Archive.

Art is of the artist, and the artist has to find and create it his own way, but art is for the audience, and to refuse to be relevant, to refuse to communicate, to refuse to make the attempt, on any grounds, is to be less of an artist. Art cannot exist for the past, for there is no past; and because we have serious doubts that there will be a future, it dare not exist for the future. To make art fully meaningful for the present is to absorb into it both the past and the future, to make them, in the minds of the audience, the now-serving continuum that they make in reality.

—Michael Feingold, “Do We Need Greek Drama?” yale/theatre, Spring 1968


The 1968 journal precursor to Theater magazine, yale/theatre, asked whether modern audiences needed Greek theatre. Michael Feingold’s fellow editor, Ren Frutkin, wrote that they wanted to gather the “activities of the Yale School of Drama: the theatre, thought, discussion, dream, art, people through essays, plays, poems, reviews and graphics” in this new publication. The canon of Greek plays was relevant to their first issue because Greek theatre “resonates with people in the process of changing their way of thinking about themselves.” These young theatre students—with their provocative lower case journal title—were graduate drama students during the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Bobby Kennedy. A changing world was around them as LBJ gave way to Nixon, and Michael Feingold, literary criticism major, was ready to tell the world that its theatre needed to reflect the past and the present in meaningful ways to impact an unknown future; “ancient civilizations are metaphors,” wrote Feingold, “like works of art, in the image of contemporary civilization.”

Michael Feingold (1945-2022) wore a variety of hats in the theatre, though primarily known as a theatre critic for the radical Village Voice from 1971-2013. Few know that he was an original editor at yale/theatre and the first literary manager (or dramaturg) of the Yale Repertory Theatre, as well as the Guthrie Theater and American Place Theatre. He was the General Editor of a set of groundbreaking experimental theatre publication known as the Winter Repertory. He spent summers nurturing playwrights such as Adrienne Kennedy and August Wilson at O’Neill Playwrighting Conferences. He wrote and published poetry, both original and translated. He translated Romance and Germanic Language plays into English including Brecht/Weill, Copi, Goldoni. His works were performed on Broadway and off-Broadway, in California, Norway, and Singapore. He was a director, a playwright, an adaptor, and while he had a caustic personal style, he knew theatre history, and would make sure everyone knew it.

When Michael died in 2022, he left a large rental apartment full of books, albums, DVDS and audio-visual material, 18th through 20th century theatre memorabilia, art, and theatrical posters from Yale to Lincoln Center of shows he was involved in. In total, 109 bankers boxes of papers including correspondence, childhood photographs and actor headshots, scripts sent to him in press packets or authors seeking advice, as well as his own personal work at Columbia and Yale, the Winter Repertory, and his own reviews, which are currently neither digitized nor available to the public. This is the “Feingold Project,” as it is called by the team put together by preliminary estate executor, Daniel Diego Pardo, his husband, playwright Brian Quirk, and project archivist Tanya Elder. Pardo gathered a crew who had worked with or knew Michael, packed his belongings and transferred them to office space in Tin Pan Alley (an appropriate location, Feingold would say) where his collection was inventoried, and Pardo and Quirk began the impossible task of finding homes for what Feingold called, “his accumulations” in a New York Stage Review article from 2012 titled “Of Merch and Memorabilia.”

The Feingold Project continues its search to place Michael’s rich collection of personal papers into an archive. In April 2024, Feingold’s long-time friend and collaborator, Jim Nicola—recently retired as beloved Artistic Director of the New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW)—spoke with Pardo and Elder regarding Feingold’s papers, his place in theatre history and scholarship (including the rich world of LGBTQ+ artists) in the American theatre for American audiences. They met at the Feingold Project offices, where Nicola was able to view some of the archival materials in the collection and reminisced about their own work together on Two Blind Beggars at the old WPA Theatre.


Tanya Elder: When I first looked at Michael Feingold’s vast archive of posters, programs, correspondence, books, and art, one of the things I remember from when I studied experimental theatre at NYU is the journal yale/theatre, which was the precursor to the Theater magazine. yale/theatre had biting material about theatre and politics. And I think Yale is where Michael got a lot of his groundwork for life. It was the height of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

Jim Nicola: When was he at Yale?

Elder: He graduated with a BA from Columbia [English/Comparative Literature] from 1962-1966. And then he attended Yale from 1966 to 1972 for an MFA. 

Daniel Diego Pardo: He was there when critic and writer Robert Brustein was in his first year. He met Brustein at Columbia. When Brustein got a job at Yale, he brought Michael there. 

Elder: There are letters in the archive between Brustein and Michael. Michael writes “Can you get me in?” and Brustein writes back: “Read the newspaper tomorrow and you'll find out your answer.”

Pardo: And they inaugurated Yale Rep. Michael was its first literary manager.

Nicola: Yes, when it was still a relatively new form.

Elder: We have the program and poster from the Yale production of The Frogs (1974). On the third page, you'll see cast members Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Durang, and the rest of the cast.

Pardo: It is signed by the entire cast, including Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove, and Michael had a bootleg recording of the production as well. 

Elder: We spoke to the Sondheim Foundation and are waiting to hear back...

Pardo: The production took place in a swimming pool! And you can hear the water on the recording. 

Elder: This began his relationship with actor Alvin Epstein.

Pardo: [Reading names on program.] Alvin. Carmen de Lavallade. Steve Lawson. Jeremy Geidt. Jeremy Dempsey. Jonathan Marks. These are incredible people!

Pardo: We are hoping that the archive will find a home soon. But it’s a complicated process. 

Elder: The second thing I want to point out is that Michael was one of the most pivotal people in experimental theatre in New York. He was there at the beginning. He was the first person to publish Mad Dog Blues by Sam Shephard and other plays for his Winter Repertory series (Feingold, Winter Repertory 1970-1973), which included six other volumes from different playwrights including Tom Eyen, Rochelle Owens, Robert Patrick, María Irene Fornés, Amiri Baraka, Jim Jacobs, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, and Warren Casey.

Nicola: Wow.

Elder: One of the volumes was supposed to be Jean-Claude van Itallie’s India Journal which didn’t end up happening, but we have the copy that has both van Itallie’s notes and Michael's notes about publishing it. Michael was the first to publish Grease.

Pardo: He wrote the foreword for Grease. I believe it might be the off-Broadway version. We have one Grease hardcover version with Jim Jacob’s autograph in it.

Elder: One of the most incredible things about Michael is that he kept everything

Pardo: Yes, even if it was a random piece of paper with his production notes, or a program from an Off-Off-Broadway play that he saw. The archive is a little like a time capsule of history from the Off- and Off-Off Broadway Movement.

Elder: He kept the flyers of every performance he went to, including obscure downtown theatre. There's a lot of stuff with David Greenspan, for example.

Nicola: The Beggar's Opera! Do you have any of the shows that he and I did together?

Pardo: It's probably in here somewhere.

Elder: He…

Pardo: …saved everything.

Nicola: He did a translation of an Offenbach one-act operetta called Two Blind Beggars.

Elder: We have it.

Nicola: I directed it. He brought it to me. We did it at the old WPA on Bowery on a double bill with Trial by Jury.

Elder: We have everything that he ever wrote and everything he ever saw.

Nicola: [Pointing to headshot of Michael taped to wall.] Oh, look at that wonderful picture! What year would that be? 

Pardo: 1973. That was just after his time at Yale.

Nicola: I remember him then.

Pardo: Remember this? It’s the Grove New American Theatre: An Anthology (Feingold, Grove New American Theater 1992) edited by Michael Feingold. It includes Mysteries and What’s So Funny by David Gordon; Sincerity Forever by Mac Wellman; The American Plan by Richard Greenberg; Theory of Total Blame by Karen Finley; Das Vedanya Mamma by Ethyl Eichelberger; and Dead Mother or Shirley Not All In Vain by David Greenspan. It was published in 1993. He was such an advocate of experimental theatre. 

Elder: He excoriated the theatre and politics, as he felt the theatre should impact the audience and use their collective memory to elevate the audience to react…. and he felt that these plays were necessary as the basis of good theatre that was politically active.

Nicola: This is incredible.

Elder: Here are the first four volumes of yale/theatre beginning in Spring 1968 with the question, “Do We Need Greek Theatre?”. The second was entitled “Crisis 1968: Politics and Imagination,” the Spring 1969 edition was dedicated to the Living Theatre, who appeared at Yale when they returned to the United States after a self-imposed and tax-related exile in Europe, and the fourth, “New Playwrights.” We have the full run of the journal, which included about eleven issues with two editions containing individual short plays. Michael was on the editorial board, with Ren Frutkin and Joseph Cazelet in the first volume, and David Copelin for the third volume with various editors. The publication ran to 1975. I believe Michael was involved until about 1972.

Pardo: In 1972, he was already established in New York as a critic at the Village Voice

Elder: Yes. And he wrote for more than just the Village Voice. He also wrote for Mirabella, Plays and Players Magazine, if you remember that.

Nicola: Yes, I have a stack of Plays and Players.

Elder: The problem with publications like this is that many libraries already have the publications themselves, the same goes for a stack of Plays and Players. It’s difficult to move some of that stuff in the archive. But we have so much of it. However, Michael retained the source materials for yale/theatre and the Winter Repertory. Original copyedited material, correspondence, photographs for both publications.

Nicola: This is incredible. I grew up just outside of Hartford. And I graduated from high school in ‘68. So, I lived the founding with Robert Brustein arriving at Yale. It was something I was excited about. It is my impression that Brustein and Michael created the notion of a dramaturg in American theatre practice. 

Elder: That is the job of an archive—to figure out where this stuff is going to go and get an overview of the impact it had then and now. 

Pardo: With this archive, a PhD student in theatre and performance could delve into it. This would be a beginning or a kind of a springboard into where and what was happening back then. 

Nicola: Was his MFA in Drama Criticism?

Elder: It was in Literary Criticism.

Nicola: Yes, because they didn’t have a “dramaturgical” focus yet at that time. It ultimately became “Criticism and Dramaturgy,” I believe.

Elder: In this volume of essays editor David Copelin mentions at midnight on the day of the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the second yale/theatre volume on “1968: Crisis and Imagination” that “a group of drama school students was to attend the dress rehearsal of Sam Shepard’s Icarus's Mother at a New Haven playhouse.” And Michael also mentions in his essay in the issue that New Haven was burning.

Pardo: What I would want as an outsider to the archive is a frame of entrance. When did Dramaturgy start to officially come into American theatre practice? And when did they start hiring Dramaturgs? There was a while there when it was called “literary manager.” 

Elder: This is what Michael was called in the early days. 

Pardo: He was the literary manager at the Guthrie.  

Nicola: In so many ways, he was a pioneer.

Elder: Someone could search out Michael’s Yale-era papers to really think about that development. He did have many opinions, and he wrote about them very strongly, even at Yale.

Nicola: He was inspired by the Russian and German theaters.

Pardo: That could very well be a PhD thesis. 

Nicola: It could be a hook to so much to discover about that period. Growing up in Hartford in the 1960s, and being an adolescent then, I witnessed the birth of the Hartford Stage, Yale Rep, of Long Wharf, of the now defunct Stage West in Springfield. Goodspeed. The O’Neill. All of that within ten years. Michael was at the center of it. But he was also one of the observers and articulators of it all.

Elder: Here are some of his papers from his undergraduate days at Columbia that kind of formed him. He got A’s on all of them. It’s his first year of college. He’s a sophomore here, or freshman.

Pardo: [Reading a title of one of Michael’s papers.] “The Development of Tragic Characters in Richard the Third and Richard the Second: Hero and Anti-hero.” He is doing deep thinking at such a young age. 

Elder: He talks about Richard the Third a lot. I just found another play that he wrote as well. This was at Columbia. It’s called Marie Lafarge, a play in one act. “Good books, good old fashioned movie writing. But can you get Garbo?” That was the teacher’s comment on it. 

Nicola: (Laughing.) He writes all of these in longhand. It’s hard to imagine now. 

Pardo: Yeah, he was probably a senior at that point and getting ready to go to Yale.

Nicola: Oh, there’s comments here. Carbon copy and a typewriter. Oh my God. Yes!

Elder: We have materials by other playwrights as well that he worked on. Here is the play More War in Store with Peace as Chief of Police, a play by Lonnie Carter. I think Lonnie Carter also went to Yale.

Nicola: Yes.

Elder: His Yale graduate professional newsletters included some of his first reviews.


Nicola: This reads like he’s speaking to today.

Elder: He also has a ton of programs from Yale. There is a series of letters that he wrote about theatre and education which, I think, ended up in one of the yale/theatre issues. 

Nicola: This brings me back to my youth. 

Pardo: With your experience, how would you stimulate someone’s imagination that this is valuable for our life today? You know, not just as part of the history, but …

Nicola: Just exactly the experience I had right now. This is a metaphor. Historical metaphor for what we are living right now.

Pardo: Because he lived through Vietnam.

Nicola: He commented on it. He was a part of it.

Elder: His introduction to “Crisis 1968: Theatre and Imagination” in yale/theatre basically speaks to us now. How American theatre tries to reinvent itself every twenty years when we go through a political crisis.

Pardo: And there's always a political crisis. I mean, historically, during his lifetime, there was the AIDS crisis, which killed a lot of theatre artists and Michael’s friends, but also the whole issue with the National Endowment of the Arts. 

Nicola: Yeah, that was a huge storm. That we still are feeling the effects of Jesse Helms.

Elder: “Death, Or the Theatre” is one of the things that he wrote about, and he argues that when you lose a theatre artist too young, it’s not like losing a regular person or a film or television star. A theatre artist is only really there on the stage. There’s not a lot of video of them. So it feels like more is lost with no way to access what they did. But this archive points to some of that. 

Pardo: Yes, you also miss out on the growth of the artist if they die young. Michael wrote about this tragic reality. 

Elder: He also wrote two articles in a series called “Art and Sanity,” where he specifically talks about Jesse Helms, and around the time when Mac Wellman’s play Seven Blowjobs was going on.

Pardo: He was also trying to bring attention to actual theatrical works. For example, he would write about the productions to encourage people to go. 

Nicola: What strikes me about Michael as we are talking is that he was present at, and a participant in, the forging of 20th century American theatre.

Elder: People don't really know about the things he did outside of critical reviews. 

Pardo: He was very much engaged. And the theatre today would not be what it is had he not been around. [Tanya shows political buttons from the collection.] Look at this button, it’s hilarious! “Vote the Motherfuckers Out.” 

Nicola: “Take a Playwright to Lunch.” Oh. That's good. “Carol Bellamy”. Wow, Carol Bellamy! 

Elder: Mind blowing from back in the day, right? She got nowhere near the Mayordom.

Pardo: “I Read Banned Books.”

Nicola: My god. We’re still having this fight about banned books. What strikes me when you look at the totality of who he is, or was, he was a participant in the creation of the structure and the aesthetics of modern American theatre—art theatre as opposed to commercial theatre. The forging of the not-for-profit theatre. The real theatre, in my opinion. And then he moved along to be more of a spectator and observer and marker or recorder of its progress.

Elder: Yes, he was a cultural historian and commentator as well as a critic. 

Nicola: He was somebody who was engaged, who had a full knowledge of the field. I think his work still speaks to what we are going through now because we’re in a similar period of collapse.

Pardo: Especially with funding. I mean, it’s ridiculous that an Off-Broadway theatre production is almost the same ticket price as a Broadway show. And Broadway is always going to win because they do big musicals. And there's nothing wrong with that, but it’s commercial theatre.

Nicola: That’s America. That’s who we are. And that’s another element that I’ve always thought was powerful about the not-for-profit theatre: it's going against capitalism. It's rejecting those ideals and proposing an alternative idea. A way of being and being together collectively. But that’s who I think he really was, even if unconsciously. Using his gifts, to speak to another generation or to further generations as they start to contend with what is what, not only what is an art form, but what life is and what it means. Theatre is such a communal event. You can't do it by yourself. 

Pardo: It's true, it's a community. In drama school, you work together and you rely on each other. The director makes compromises, as does an actor, and a designer. You work together to present something. 

Elder: But that sometimes it failed, too. 

Nicola: Of course. Everything has moments of failure. Anything human does.

Elder: Instances where he failed in this collection is highlighted when he was supposed to be the translator of Kiss of the Spider Woman. Starting about 1981 to 1986, there are letters from Manuel Puig saying, “Michael, where’s my translation? This movie is hinging on this [Broadway translation].” But that was also at a time when his mother was passing away. Also, there were a couple of years, maybe a decade, where he took on a little too much and couldn’t satisfy everyone, possibly even himself. He never really said why he didn’t do things. 

Pardo: And what about the gay plays? 

Elder: When it comes to gay and lesbian material, he wrote some original materials, translated others, nurtured performers. But he’s connected with Caffe Cino, and with tons of playwrights who were gay, straight, and otherwise, particularly Robert Patrick, John-Claude von Itallie, and Joe Chaikin. Michael’s translation of Grand Finale by Copi was published in Gay Plays: An International Anthology in 1989.

Pardo: And he also loved the Ridiculous Theatre. 

Elder: And Robert Patrick, the playwright. He worked a lot with Patrick at the beginning. There’s an autographed copy of Patrick’s Truly Gay News. There is a folder for the Gay American Arts Festival in 1981. Here is Flatbush Tosca. He had a lot of correspondence back and forth with Harvey Fierstein as well. And here’s an interview he did with Sam Shepard on The Chairs in 1985.

Pardo: It’s for WBAI radio. Is this Shepard and Joseph Chaikin in this recording? 

Elder: We should get this digitized.

Nicola: Yeah, absolutely. The Gay American Festival was incredible. Everybody from the gay literary world is in here. John Rechy, who wrote the novel City of Night and the non-fiction book The Sexual Outlaw. Jonathan Ned Katz. Harvey Fierstein. “An Evening with Harvey.” A Gay Publishing Roundtable with Felice Picano, Joan Larkin, two major poets. And Michael Denny. And lesbian poets Susan Jordan, Joan Larkin, and Audre Lorde. Incredible.

Pardo: He was very well connected. He knew everybody and everybody knew him. 

Elder: Here are the first or some of the first copies of Christopher Street Magazine. I’m not quite sure if he wrote for these, or if they were sent to him.

Pardo: Does Christopher Street still exist as a publication?

Nicola: No. Nor does Christopher Street as we knew it either.

Pardo: Well-put, Jim. Richard Hauer, a poem. “Superwoman and the Wheelchair.”

Elder: He had a lot of correspondence with Stanley Kaufmann as well. And we have Robert Patrick's Truly Gay News.

Nicola: A gay humor magazine from 1967. And signed! Renee Richards autobiography, remember? “Renee Richards autobiography would definitely be titled ‘Better Off.’” “Rex Reed has a crack in his ass from sitting on the fence.” That’s hilarious.

Elder: Here is Robert Patrick's Cheep Theatricks published in the Winter Repertory. The Winter Repertory was a series of seven published books of plays with Michael as general editor of the series, starting in 1971 with Kenneth Bernard’s Night Club and Other Plays. And here’s Maria Irene Fornes. Promenade, written with Al Carmines. So much of the New York experimental theatre is represented in this archive. He's got a few things in the archive from Al Carmines. 

Nicola: This is the history of American playwriting. 

Elder: The last thing I'll show you from the Winter Repertory is Mad Dog Blues and Other Plays by Sam Shepard. Here are photographs that were used in the publication taken by Gerard Malanga. Malanga was a Warhol photographer as well. And there's O-Lan Jones in here someplace, too, Shepherd's wife. O-Lan and Patti Smith in the same volume. One thing that blew me away is that Patti Smith, for this volume, wrote in her own way a history of her friendship with Sam Shepard. And she signed it, and she said “don’t edit it,” and then they edited it, since it needed a comma. So don’t tell Patti!

Pardo: It’s here somewhere as part of the archive.

Elder: When I was going through his stuff, I was shocked about the depth and range of his life. Everything I learned in the Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU came rushing back. 

Nicola: Quite a journey that Michael took that parallels the American theatre journey from 1960 to 2022 when he died. 

Elder: He was a nerdy theatre kid. So he’s got programs in here dating back to the 50s.

Nicola: It's a generational perspective. Really informed. And I keep going back to it that he was both a participant and an observer/commentator. And not many people are that. It was part of what made him special, in my opinion, when he was working at the New York Theatre Workshop. Because other cultures that I’ve visited and got to visit, it was a surprise to me that people who were critics were also working artists or dramaturgs employed by theatrical institutions. He was both the critic at the Village Voice observing the work of Off- and Off-Off Broadway, and he was also part of that world as a playwright. And the rest of American culture is separated, like the people who are critical are often not “in” the community. They’re separated. But in German and French theatre, they’re part of the community. And it’s much healthier. I think he really displayed that dual role in his life, and his work and sets a good example for the future.

Nicola: There is a paper from college where he quotes from Shaw...

Pardo: It's a paper that he wrote when he was an undergraduate. 

Nicola: Yes [Reading from paper.] “I stand for the future and the past. For the posterity that has no vote and the tradition that never had any. I stand for the great abstractions for conscience and virtue, for the eternal against the expedient, for the revolutionary appetite, against the day’s gluttony, for intellectual integrity, for humanity, for the rescue of industry from commercialism and of science, from professionalism. For everything that you desire as sincerely as I am.” That’s from The Apple Cart by George Bernard Shaw.

Pardo: And this is early on, 1962. He’s so young, a new kid on the block. And he puts this quote from Shaw on the cover of this report. It tells you a lot of who he is at 18 or 19 years old.

Nicola: And that didn't change. 

Elder: Around 1998, he wrote “Death, or the Theatre” for the Village Voice. I think this encapsulates his entire vision of what the theatre could be. The introduction is biting. But it’s not something that he hasn't written before. He’s very pessimistic, too. 

Pardo: At this point in time, we were dealing with AIDS and with the NEA mess.

Elder: He didn’t really talk a lot about Judaism. He had a bar mitzvah. He grew up in the conservative tradition that he turned his back on, but I think a lot of it informed his politics and life. I work at the American Jewish Historical Society, so I don’t want to forget that he also grew up in that Judaic idea of fairness.

Pardo: In his 1991 Miss Saigon review, he says something about blowing up the New York Times. “Every generation gets the theatre they deserve. And we get Miss Saigon.”

Elder: His dad emigrated from Lithuania. His mom was born in Philadelphia. I don't know exactly when he emigrated, but I read somewhere that some of his family did perish in the Holocaust. He doesn’t really talk about it in his work to my knowledge, though he did write an unpublished script called The Hitler Play

Nicola: You know, I glanced at the Obie Awards in the collection. And that seems to me that he had a huge influence on what it became then. And it's not anything like that anymore. 

Elder: Yes, there is a connection between home grown theatres in New York City. HERE Arts Center is represented in the archive. So is New York Theatre Workshop, Theatre for the New Audience, and La MaMa. People who went in and out of downtown theatre flowed in and out, and it's incredible because you never really think of a critic talking to theatre people about actually crafting their work. 

Pardo: That's what a dramaturg does, isn’t it? I think this is why, every year, he went as the dramaturg at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Center. It’s how you learn to craft a play.

Nicola: This is breaking down those walls.

Pardo: When they accepted August Wilson, he had sent in a play that was hundreds of pages long. But when Michael read it, he said something like, “this is an incredible thing. This guy has such an imagination. We must accept this guy and we'll cut it down. We'll turn it and make it into a presentable play.”

Nicola: Was that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom? I think it was. And then O’Neill developed three or four plays of his. 

Elder: It seems like people don’t really understand that Michael was more than a critic. I was surprised to learn that he was also a translator and an adapter. He was also a lyricist. He was a dramaturg, a literary manager. He had his hand in so many different aspects of crafting theatre.

Pardo: One example of this is his work with The Kurt Weill Foundation. They found a song that had never been translated into English. And they had Michael do it. He also worked with the Cole Porter Foundation, and so many others. He also worked with the Cole Porter Foundation to re-write the book of Porter's Aladdin musical. Michael went through the lengthy process of creating a brand new Aladdin musical just before Disney released their version, not by Cole Porter. Alas, bad timing.

Nicola: He did Happy End, right?

Pardo: Yes. That was his first Brecht/Weill translation. It had Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd. It started at Yale and then it moved to Broadway.

Elder: He also had like 10,000 albums and 8000 books. 

Pardo: He has a Threepenny Opera t-shirt autographed by Sting.

Nicola: This archive, while the remnants of one person’s life, is actually the story of the American theatre of half a century, or more. This overlaps with my own rumination on the time, the life, that I’ve had in the theatre in America. The big, underlying thought that I wasn’t able to hold on to until now, now that I’m finished. Only now can I see a clear beginning, middle, and end to my professional life. What Michael’s accumulation is revealing to me is that this thing we have all been engaged in on the deepest possible foundational level has been trying to persuade this culture that the role of the artist has value. And you can see in those early years and the materials from Yale with people like Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep, Robert Brustein—you can see they were pushing this. The role, the value of the artist, not just their output. It’s the process of making art. It’s the thing. It's the enterprise, the commitment.

Pardo: The remnants of a brilliant mind....


About The Authors

James C. Nicola was the Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop from 1988 to 2022. Prior to that, he was first a National Endowment for the Arts Directing Fellow and then Producing Associate at Arena Stage (with Zelda Fichandler). He was a Casting Coordinator at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. He worked as a director or assistant Off-Off Broadway, and in London at the Royal Court Theatre and The Young Vic Theatre. He is a graduate of Tufts University, and was awarded a Special Tony Award and a Lifetime Achievement Obie Award.

Tanya Elder is the Senior Archivist of the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS). She studied theater and archival management at New York University and helped organize the records of the HERE Arts Center, the Mark Amitin papers, and worked with the American Theater Archive Project (ATAP). At the AJHS, she re-processed and wrote on the Raphael Lemkin papers. She has also published essays in In Our Own Voices: The Changing Face of Librarianship.

Diego Daniel Pardo is an actor who has worked in professional theatre, film, and television. He is also a professional dialect coach. He holds a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology from CUNY (Lehman) and is an alumni of the Juilliard School Drama Division. He is the preliminary executor for the estate of Michael Feingold. 

JADT publishes thoughtful and innovative work by leading scholars on theatre, drama, and performance in the Americas – past and present. Provocative articles provide valuable insight and information on the heritage of American theatre, as well as its continuing contribution to world literature and the performing arts. Founded in 1989 and previously edited by Professors Vera Mowry Roberts, Jane Bowers, and David Savran, this widely acclaimed peer reviewed journal is now edited by Dr. Benjamin Gillespie and Dr. Bess Rowen.

Journal of American Drama and Theatre is a publication of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.

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