The Jerome Robbins Dance Division yields some cool suprises:
The collection contains a number of items relating to current events in the 1950s and ‘60s. In particular, Robbins was keenly interested in the civil rights movement.
One treasure discovered in the audio collection is “Project 65: Mississippi Summer,” a two-hour radio documentary produced in 1965 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, exploring the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.
The doc allows activists, locals, blacks, whites, mayors, tenant farmers, and schoolchildren to speak for themselves, creating a multi-faceted portrait of the struggle for African-American civil rights. Fannie Lou Hamer describes being beaten in a Winona, Mississippi jail; a young volunteer from Wisconsin canvases for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; the president of the pro-segregation White Citizens’ Councils defends their purpose; farmer Hartman Turnbow describes his attempt to register to vote and the subsequent firebombing of his home.
Also in the Jerome Robbins Audio Collection is an archival recording of a 1964 gathering of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Greenwood, Mississippi, at which Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier (who are heard on the tape delivering speeches) appeared to present funds raised for SNCC; and radio news reporting about race riots in Detroit, Milwaukee, and other cities in July, 1967.
Another gem to emerge from the collection is a complete audio recording of the television program Night Beat, on which John Wingate interviews Jack Kerouac and Earle Hyman. Hyman discusses his struggles and triumphs as an African-American actor and his love of theater.
Kerouac, on the occasion of the publication of The Subterraneans, defines Beat vocabulary for his host and discusses the controversy surrounding the “Beat Generation,” his writing process, his cats, his painting, and his study of Buddhism.
These extremely rare sound recordings are now available for research use on-site at the Library for the Performing Arts, along with a two-hour lecture-performance by Stephen Sondheim at the 92nd Street Y in 1971, a radio interview with Lee Harvey Oswald, a recording of Arthur Miller’s biblical musical Up From Paradise, archival recordings of traditional Japanese music, and other audio materials reflecting Jerome Robbins’s wide-ranging, ever-searching intellect.
- Imogen Smith