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Collecting Programs!


Leigh Witchel

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Shameful confession.

I have BOXES of programs. In a one room apartment. And programs spilling out of boxes. Programs piled on flat surfaces. Piles of programs the kitty loves to knock over.

Do you save your programs, only the special ones, or do you heave them?

Any stories of special programs you saved or programs you WISH you had saved?

If you save them, how do you organize and store them? Have you found a good method to save space?

Those of us hoping to unclutter our lives at least a bit want to know.

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A few years ago, I purged. Whhhhhhhhtttt! All out. Even the signed ones.

When I got my computer, I thought I would start a log (including corps substitutions), but that never happened. Yet.

I guess I've started a new collection, but that should be headed for recycling pretty soon.

Ones I wish I'd kept? Gelsey's one and only ABT Swan Lake and her final Leaves. Darci's first Symphony in C. Martine's last Swan Lake. And the one from NYCB the day Balanchine died.

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I'm the last person who should dole advise on this matter, but what I've heard some people do and what I've always said I would get around doing is this: Collect each month's group of programs, keep one for the articles etc... and then pull out the cast list for the others and put them inside the whole copy and then put a rubberband around them. I guess you could save one or two, if they have value such as the day of Balanchine's death or Farrell's retirement. That would at least cut the volumn down.

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. . . keep one for the articles etc... and then pull out the cast list for the others and put them inside the whole copy and then put a rubberband around them. . . . That would at least cut the volumn down.

You think I didn't take that approach??? They still took up too much space. Then, all the rubber bands crumbled.

I like Socalgal's idea. I'm constantly finding ticket stubs :wink:. Until the last couple of years, they were too general to be worth keeping -- showing only the date, the theater, and the company. Now they tend to include the program. Nifty. :thumbsup:

:) If we could get the cast listed on the back, that'd be great!!!

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It depends on what you have the space to support. If you have the room for it, various library and archival supply houses like Gaylord, University Products and Hollinger Corp make or supply acid-free boxes to house artifacts like these. They also make mylar or polypropylene sleeves for additional buffering without total loss of air circulation. For long-term preservation of data, you are probably best advised to photocopy the relevant information onto acid-free paper and make a notebook of them, organized however you like. Keep them away from vinyl. If it smells "like plastic" it's not good for them. And rubber bands are full of sulfur - if you must bundle them together, use cotton twill tape.

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Just programmes? I'm also lumbered with books (around 200), magazines, videos, DVD's, photos, posters, scrapbooks and dance memorabilia including shoes, plates, lacquer boxes etc., etc. Somehow they just seem to accumulate......

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I save them. I justify it to myself because I do go back every so often to find out who I saw doing something, or when I first saw a piece. I also save my notes, stuffed in the back of the program. I am coming up on the edge of critical mass in terms of storage (I live with a family of packrats -- one of my son's favorite questions as a small child was "can I keep this forever?") and am, very slowly, purging some stuff, but not programs.

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The cardboard box problem just got too much for me earlier this year and I went out and bought a large filing cabinet - not pretty, but I can now find anything I want without crawling about on the floor etc. And of course I now have lots of empty cardboard boxes which are gradually filling up with things from e-bay, more books, more programmes....

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My mum's got some pretty amazing things from 60- 70's RB and ENB memorabilia. My favorite is the RB salutes the U.S.A programme poster with Vergie Derman and Mark Silver. One programme she has is from the Shakespeare evening at the RB which included the premiere of Macmillan's Images of Love, Helpmann's Hamlet, and Ashton's The Dream.

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I usually move every 15 yers or so, and there is always somebody around who will say to me "Do you REALLY need all that stuff?" I guess I am ready for another overhaul---I have been living in this location for 19 years---when I moved here I sold two huge boxes to the Ballet store near Lincoln Center--and I have more than made up for that loss.

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What about scanning the performance pages & ticket stubs & making a CD once each month or so? Then we would only need to keep one copy of each season's full programs, should we so desire.

I just got a scanner & thought I would do this ... when I get the time to do 30+ years of programs.

Will this work?

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I thought of doing the same thing, Zerbinetta, although storing them on my hard drive rather than on CDs. That way, it would be easy to search.

I saved my programs the first three years. I also had scrapbooks with every article I could find. Then I went to so many performances there were far more programs than there was time to even throw the programs into a shopping bag. Oh, how I envy those who kept performance diaries!

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The idea of scanning everything and keeping it on CD ROM is right up there with turning base metal into gold. I will do it right after I find the Sorcerer's Stone and the Holy Grail. I have invented several systems, and use none of them. It's sad. I did jettison some inventory, so I have only about fifteen huge plastic storage bins of stuff. Not to mention the stacks on the desk, on the bookshelves, etc. This is depressing. I think I will go read a book. There's one I've been wanting to get to right here in this pile over here. It's an appealing pile--Merce Cunningham's Notes on Choreography, MFK Fisher's Sister Age, Robert Gottlieb's Balanchine....and a lot of programs.

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I thought of doing the same thing, Zerbinetta, although storing them on my hard drive rather than on CDs. That way, it would be easy to search.

I love the "store & search" idea but 30 years times an average of 225 performances per year would take up a huge amount of memory, wouldn't it? & then the 30 years to come as well ..

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When I was about to move from NYC to Seattle a decade ago, I decided to keep the opera programs -- I had fewer -- and to toss all of the ballet one-page casts lists; I've now come to regret this.

In rather Luddite fashion, before the big toss, I bought one of those blank books covered with marbled Italian paper, and started logging the principal roles and performers from all of the performances. (It took weeks, but it kept me busy and anxiety about the move away.) There's sort of an index (ballet name by first letter, and page number).

The downsides are: 1. Trying to read my own handwriting, particularly when the performer is someone who is unfamiliar to me and I never see again and 2. I've lost the history of which corps members danced the second demisoloist in [name the ballet].

Last night I was looking through old opera cast lists to see if I had heard Gary Rideout in Doktor Faust in the San Francisco Opera production -- he sang in the Met production and was the Siegfried in Adelaide -- and it was a trip down memory lane, in which I saw that I had heard him as Flavio in the SFO production of Norma from 1998, as well as being reminded of all of the small roles that James Morris had sung in the 70's, such as Lodovico in Otello. I'll never have that experience with ballet, because I don't have the programs anymore. Even with opera, there are the programs from when I was a teenager that I didn't save: several Ramey performances of Mefistofele, all of the Sills "Queen Triology" performances, as well as a couple of her Lucias and a Violetta. (Sob.) And, like Carbro, at least I wish I had saved the programs from the performances performed the day Balanchine died, as well as several retirement performances and from the Balanchine Celebration.

The upsides are 1. When I try to find anything, I go through Major Role memory lane! I'm now on my third book 2. When I want to know who I saw perform Sugar Plum fairy, I can just look down the Sugar Plum fairy columns!

I also keep ticket stubs in a tall, clear glass vase, and rue the day I came home midway through my freshman year of college and decided that all of that high school stuff was not relevant anymore and tossed away my scrapbook, with all of the Knicks and Rangers ticket stubs I had saved religiously.

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I save all my programs, even though they usually don't have much historical or sentimental value. The most recent of mine that has any meaning was ABT's Romeo and Juliet this summer, which was Ashley Tuttle's final performance.

I also have a program from this Summer's Ashton Festival at Lincoln Center, signed by Sylvie Guillem, who performed in Margueritte and Armand. I got to meet her because my friend performed with her once and went back stage to say hi.

My favorite program was from a performance that I'm too young to have even attended. It is the world premiere of Baryshnikov's Don Quixote or Kitri's Wedding on March 23, 1978 at the J.F.K. Center for Performing Arts, with Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. I got it when I bought the book Baryshnikov at Work online and the program was enclosed in the book. Too bad it wasn't signed. It was a nice little treat, though.

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When I was in college, I spent one semester close enough to NYC to go in several times a week for academic classes and then on weekends, for shows, music, and ballet. I saved my programs for many years. Then, I got married and decided to toss out the old life!

Boy, was I stupid! :)

Now, my daughter does ballet (little did I know at the time I was in NYC that I would have a daughter, let alone one who danced). And, now I want to know who I saw when I saw the ballets. I remember the ballets, just not the dancers.

Now, when we go to ballets, I save at least one copy of the program, the tickets, and whatever else I might pick up. One summer, my daughter and I went to SPAC four or so times a week, and I saved all those programs (with lots of autographs collected by my child).

I have vowed to never throw away another ballet program again! (I'll let my daughter do that for me when she goes through my life's collections, after I'm gone).

Every Christmas I ask for a 4-drawer file cabinet; maybe I'll get one this year.

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I have saved all of my programs, not only from ballets, but from plays, symphonies, etc. My first one is from attending my first play, "The Sound of Music" at the elegant Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, at the age of 10. In high school, I used to usher at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater so as to see the plays for free. It's fascinating to see how far most of those actors have gone.

I keep them in those decorative rectangular boxes that come in various sizes. Mel mentioned some sources. I've bought mine at Steinmart, of all places, but "Hold Everything" and the Archival Company are good sources. I like to reflect on where I was --literally and figuratively-- at the time I attended the various performances. They've also proven to be good sources of research material. When stored in these boxes, they take up a surprisingly small amount of space.

Ditto for the ticket stubs. I've been saving them forever in a pretty glass bowl. Everything from a 1988 Brewers vs. Yankees game at Yankee Stadium to one general admission to Mount Vernon to American Ballet Theatre presents Ballet in America at the Kennedy Center to various European train ticket stubs -- it all goes in the bowl. Some are pretty faded, but it's a fun bowl to go through now and then, and again, very little space taken up for such a fun collective souvenir.

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This is not my idea, but it DOES work..

I was for years on a jury that selected the winners of hte Isadora Duncan Awards, and the committee chair came up with this method:

go to a stationers'. Knock yourselves out: buy all the art-gum erasers, protracters, and white-out you think you'll ever need, but then get FOCUSSED-- FOR THIS you'll need -- a loose-leaf binder, one per year, and a whole box of window-pages (pace, Mel), with 3-hole edging so you can insert the pages in the binder --

Fill the binder with window-pages. Mark the binding with the year (e.g., "Programs 2005").

you then insert chronologically into hte windows the cast-lists and as much of hte program as you don't want to rip off and throw away. If you go 3 times a week, you might need two binders per year. The binder goes on a book-shelf, next to those from the year before.

A serious librarian will of course object to he clear-plastic window-pages -- I guess after 5 years you have to reassess the situation; but in hte meantime, it's really pretty tidy, and not much harm comes to the documents.... they're not printed on acid-free paper themselves, so eventually they'll dry up and crumble.... but maybe later you'll have time to sort and copy them. Scanners will be much faster in 10 years....

Jane's solution is of course the best, this side of having your librarian and scrivener handle all this for you, but you need room for a filing cabinet.... for this you just need a couple of feet of shelving....

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