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Identifier: MC 901

Jerry Cunliffe Theatrical Papers


  • 1951-1985
  • Majority of material found within 1958-1978

Content Description

The Jerry Cunliffe Papers mainly represent Cunliffe's work with Tom O'Horgan and La Mama E.T.C., but also include other materials dating from the beginning of Cunliffe's theatrical career.

The collection comprises three series. The BIOGRAPHICAL FILE contains several items giving personal information, including résumés and photographs. The series PRESS CLIPPINGS AND PROGRAMS contains papers pertaining to specific productions in which Cunliffe appeared; besides review clippings and programs may be found a few posters and other publicity materials (one folder also holds later press clippings unrelated to specific productions). Newsprint clippings have been copied onto acid-free paper. The series SCRIPTS contains, in addition to scripts used by Cunliffe in a number of performances, a musical score to the 1970 O'Horgan play Gurton's Apocalyptic Needle. Throughout the collection, materials already filed together were kept together, and Cunliffe's original descriptive file headings retained (such file headings appear in quotes).


0.6 Cubic Feet (2 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials

Bulk or all in English.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions.


Theatrical papers reflecting the career of actor Jerry Cunliffe, especially his work with director Tom O'Horgan and La Mama E.T.C. Materials represented include resumes, contracts, scripts, music, theatrical posters, programs, reviews, photographs and other papers.

Biographical / Historical

Jerry Cunliffe, also known as Jerry Owen Cunliffe or Owen Cunliffe, began acting while at the University of Chicago in the early fifties. His professional career began in Chicago at the Playwrights Theatre and then at Second City, where he first worked with the musician and director Tom O'Horgan.

In the 1960s, after working Off-Broadway in New York and in summer stock and regional theatrical companies, Cunliffe joined O'Horgan at La Mama E.T.C. (Experimental Theatre Club). La Mama, founded by Ellen Stewart and playwright Paul Foster, was one of a number of innovative groups then pioneering the Off-Off Broadway movement. Cunliffe was a member of the La Mama Troupe, led by O'Horgan, on its path-breaking 1967 tour of Europe. In Italy, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, at the Edinburgh Festival, and finally in London, the troupe met great acclaim--and caused sensational controversy--with its productions of Rochelle Owens' Futz (a satire of American social mores in which a young farmer is persecuted for his love of a pig) and Foster's Tom Paine.

Cunliffe continued to work with O'Horgan and La Mama over the next several years--a. A-among other productions, Cunliffe performed in Tom Paine in its long Off-Broadway run, in the film production of Futz and in Foster's !Heimskringla! or, The Stoned Angels, produced by La Mama for television with an experimental video technique. In 1970 Cunliffe joined O'Horgan's New Troupe in two plays by Sam Shepard and O'Horgan's Gurton's Apocalyptic Needle. As Tom O'Horgan's work began to branch out, however, so also did Cunliffe's. Through the 1970s, Cunliffe freelanced (he appeared in Paul Foster's Elizabeth 1 in its first New York production in 1972), joining La Mama again later in the decade, when he worked with Tom O'Horgan (in plays by Brecht and Shakespeare) and Romanian director Andrei Serban.

Guide to the Jerry Cunliffe Theatrical Papers
Wendell Piez
September 1992