The Narrative Project
The Narrative Project is a Multimedia personal history of professional Actors, Stage Managers and the audiences they have entertained over the last 100 years.
An Actor's Life
Sidney Eden: In Union, Strength
It was 1958 when got my Equity card while playing Frank Lippencott, in a production of Wonderful Town starring Kay Ballard at Herb Rogers’ Music Theater in Highland Park, Illinois. Equity stepped into lend a hand from the minute I became a member, and the next season I took The Grand Theatre in Sullivan, Illinois Equity while directing ten shows – including Alan Alda in Guys and Dolls. (Younger members might not remember when directors also worked under Equity’s jurisdiction.) The year after that, I brought Equity to Maine’s Brunswick Music Theatre (now the State Theatre of Maine), too. By 1960, I’d acted and apprenticed in over two-dozen professional plays on stages in Chicago, Cleveland, and beyond.
But I was far too influenced by my idols, Men-of-the-Theatre like Paul Robeson, Orson Welles and José Ferrer, and at all of 24 years old, I decided to try my hand at producing. I raised most of the money for Oscar Brown, Jr.’s legendary Kicks & Co, and then toured with a production of A Raisin in the Sun starring Claudia McNeil, where I served as production supervisor and assembled a cast of newcomers (most of whom became stars).
By the end of the 60s, I’d brushed up on my Shakespeare, and made a return to the stage as an Actor.
In 1972, while I was serving as Vice-Chairman of AEA's Midwest Advisory Board, and as Chairman of the Equity Library Theatre of Chicago, The First National Bank opened its glamorous new Chagall-ornamented building only a block from the Shubert. It encompassed a plush 500-seat theatre in its bowels, and I asked the bank if we, the ELT, could borrow it. They turned me down, but they did offer to lease it to me, and by my second production I had an international hit, Eugene O'Neill's Hughie, starring Ben Gazzara.We were covered by the New York Times, The London Times, Time, and Newsweek!
Equity continues to help me greatly to this very day. Over the course of my career, I’ve directed nearly 100 plays, created a couple of theaters, and produced a half dozen first-class shows. But the best thing I’ve ever done (and I’m a good Actor dammit) is amass a thorough collection of theatre media – from books on ancient drama and the American stage to a complete set of Burns Mantle to sheet music to over 2,000 plays – and donated it all to The Ray Lonergan Memorial Library of Actors’ Equity Chicago, doubling its size. (Ray sat on the Midwest Board and loved our Union).
As quid pro quo (proper billing is essential to our trade), I asked for a plaque, which reads, “In Union Strength.” Today it can be found adjacent to the new Chicago audition center. I hope it will be there when I’m gone – that would be a fate even better than dying on stage.
AEA 100 FOR 100 AARON TVEIT ALAN CUMMING ALEC BALDWIN ALFRED MOLINA ALICE RIPLEY AMY IRVING ANDRE DE SHIELDS ANGELA LANSBURY ANIKA NONI ROSE B.D. WONG BEBE NEUWIRTH BEN VEREEN BERNADETTE PETERS BETH LEAVEL BETTY BUCKLEY BILLY CRYSTAL BOB BALABAN BOB CUCCIOLI BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL BROOKS ASHMANSKAS CAROL CHANNING CATHERINE ZETA-JONES CHARLES BUSCH CHERRY JONES CHEYENNE JACKSON CHIP ZIEN CHITA RIVERA CONSTANTINE MAROULIS CYNTHIA NIXON DANA IVEY DANIEL RADCLIFFE DAVID HYDE PIERCE DENIS O'HARE DYLAN BAKER ELIZABETH WILSON ELLEN BURSTYN EMILY SKINNER FAITH PRINCE FELICITY HUFFMAN GREGORY JBARA HARRY CONNICK, JR. HARVEY FIERSTEIN HUGH JACKMAN JACKIE HOFFMAN JAMES EARL JONES JAMES NAUGHTON JASON ALEXANDER JOANNA GLEASON JOHN CULLUM JOHN LLOYD YOUNG JOHN TARTAGLIA JOSH STRICKLAND JULIE HARRIS KATE BURTON KATHLEEN CHALFANT KATIE FINNERAN KRISTIN CHENOWETH LAILA ROBBINS LAURA LINNEY LAURA OSNES LEA SALONGA LIZA MINNELLI MANDY PATINKIN MARIAN SELDES MARK LINN-BAKER MARY TESTA MATTHEW BRODERICK MATTHEW MORRISON MICHAEL BERRESSE MICHAEL CERVERIS MICHAEL MCKEAN MONTEGO GLOVER NATHAN LANE NEIL PATRICK HARRIS NICK JONAS NINA ARIANDA NORBERT LEO BUTZ PARKER POSEY PATTI LUPONE PHYLICIA RASHAD RANDY GRAFF RAUL ESPARZA ROBERT SEAN LEONARD ROGER REES ROSEMARY HARRIS ROSIE O'DONNELL S. EPATHA MERKERSON SAM WATERSTON SAMUEL L. JACKSON SEAN HAYES SETH RUDETSKY SIGOURNEY WEAVER STEPHANIE D'ABRUZZO STEPHEN LANG SUTTON FOSTER THEO BIKEL TOMMY TUNE TONY SHALHOUB TYNE DALY VICTORIA CLARK WHOOPI GOLDBERG WILLIAM H. MACY
Link to article about the Ray Lonergan Memorial Library
Performing Arts Library receives collection for theatre students
Roosevelt University’s Performing Arts Library has received a large collection of theatre-related books, musical scores, CDs and DVDs from the Ray Lonergan Memorial Library of Actor’s Equity Association. Thirty-seven boxes of materials in all were donated.
“A lot of this new collection is historical in nature, and it contains some gems,” said Richard Schwegel, director of Roosevelt’s Performing Arts Library, which is located on the upper-floor of the University’s Murray-Green Library in Chicago.
There are actor’s biographies, texts on Shakespeare plays, DVDs of Broadway musicals and CDs of a number of famous shows including Ziegfeld’s Follies, by the famed impresario whose father, Dr. Florenz Ziegfeld, Sr., founded the Chicago Musical College, which today is part of Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA).
Hundreds of books as well as sheet music from Broadway musicals and other shows come from the collection of well-known actor, writer, director and producer Sidney Eden. Approximately 600 CDs and DVDs originally donated to the association’s library by the late actor Leonard Weiner are also part of the new collection.
"This is a wonderful gift that will be used a great deal by our students,” predicted Sean Kelley, director of the Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University and associate dean of CCPA.
The gift came about as the result of a conversation at Drury Lane Theatre in Oak Brook, Ill. where Roosevelt Theatre Professor Christine Adair was coaching dialects and Iris Lieberman, chairperson of the Ray Lonergan Memorial Library and a volunteer librarian, was in the cast. Both agreed that Roosevelt’s theatre students could benefit.
Link to Theatre News letter.