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Thomas Skelton papers

Collection Data

Description
The Thomas Skelton papers represent his professional career as lighting designer from the early 1950s to his death in 1994. The bulk of the collection consists of light plots, cue sheets, ground plans, draftings and other papers related to his career in dance, theater, and opera. The collection also includes some teaching papers, correspondence, interviews, newspaper clippings, and programs. Other miscellaneous material includes travel and foreign language literature accumulated by Skelton in the course of his various professional trips. The collection also includes some scenic designs and costume information retained by Skelton from individual productions. Although Skelton did occasional scenic design, most of this additional material is the work of other crafts people. Included among the papers are also lighting designs executed by others. When identified, these are listed in subseries for 'Other Designers' in each category. The production files should be consulted for full credits for a project. The materials were received with an inventory in database format. The collection has been arranged and described with separate series for material relating to theater (including opera and variety) and dance. Organization of production files has been maintained generally the way files were originally kept. Oversized light plots and designs were separated from the production files and transferred to oversized boxes. Original identification numbers of the draftings have been maintained. Where letters formerly were used to identify boxes of rolled draftings, they now identify the drawers in which the material is currently stored. In some cases, draftings listed in the database were not found with the collection.
Names
Skelton, Thomas R. (Creator)
Graham, Martha (Choreographer)
Joffrey, Robert (Choreographer)
Limón, José (Choreographer)
Robbins, Jerome (Choreographer)
Taylor, Paul, 1930-2018 (Choreographer)
Joffrey Ballet (Dancer)
New York City Ballet (Dancer)
Ohio Ballet (Dancer)
Skelton, Thomas R. (Lighting designer)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1953 - 1994 (Approximate)
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: (S) *MGZMD 115
Topics
Ballet -- Production and direction
Modern dance -- Production and direction
Stage lighting
Stage lighting -- Europe
Stage lighting -- United States
Stage lighting designers -- United States -- 20th century
Theater -- Production and direction
Theaters -- Lighting
Stage lighting designers
Genres
Clippings
Floor plans
Interviews
Posters
Programs
Correspondence
Architectural drawings
Notes
Content: 735 legal size folders in 28 Hollinger document boxes, and 26 oversized boxes with flat draftings, 14 map case files of draftings, # map case files posters
Biographical/historical: Thomas Reginald Skelton Jr. was born in Maine in 1928. He developed an interest in modern dance while a student in the Theater Department at Middlebury College, Vermont. Upon graduating he moved to New York City where he continued to pursue his interest in theater and modern dance. He briefly studied dance technique with Martha Graham and José Limón, and composition with Doris Humphrey. He earned a living through odd jobs, including one in management for City Center Opera. His first professional experience in lighting came as an apprentice for Jean Rosenthal at the American Dance Festival. Tom Skelton was soon working as a stage manager and lighting designer for Columbia Artists Management which represented various American and foreign companies working in America and abroad. Robert Joffrey, who was at that time creating his own company, invited Tom Skelton to work as stage manager and lighting designer. After a long career, Thomas Skelton is recognized as one of America's most distinguished lighting designers. He designed the lighting for many important Broadway productions as well as landmark dance works. He had successful professional associations with Martha Graham, Robert Joffrey, Paul Taylor, New York City Ballet, and José Limón. Mr. Skelton taught at the New York Studio and Forum of Stage Design and at Yale University. He also designed lighting for numerous productions at the Circle in the Square, Yale Repertory Theatre, and the American Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Skelton received Tony Award nominations for Indians and All God's Chillun Got Wings. He served on the Board of DANCE/USA and was Associate Director for the Ohio Ballet, which has its home in Akron, Ohio. Among his most notable productions are Guys and Dolls, The King and I, Gigi, Death of a Salesman (both the Dustin Hoffman and George C. Scott revivals); Oklahoma!, and Brigadoon. For the ballet stage important works include: Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering, Robert Joffrey's Astarte, José Limón's The Moor's Pavane, Paul Taylor's Aureole, Martha Graham's Rite of Spring, Kurt Jooss' The Green Table, Gerald Arpino's Kettantanz, and Leonide Massine's Parade. He died in August, 1994, at age 66.
Content: The papers of Thomas Skelton represent his professional career as lighting designer from the early 1950s to his death in 1994. The bulk of the collection consists of light plots, cue sheets, ground plans, draftings and other papers related to Thomas Skelton's career in dance, theater, and opera. The collection also includes some teaching papers, correspondence, interviews, newspaper clippings, and programs. Other miscellaneous material includes travel and foreign language literature accumulated by Skelton for his various professional trips to Bali and other destinations. In the course of a lighting project, it is common for the designer to have at his disposal the scenic designs and even costume information for the production. Much of this kind of material is included among the drafings and renderings listed in this finding aid. Although Thomas Skelton did occasional scenic design, most of this additional material is the work of other crafts people. Included among the papers are also lighting designs executed by others. When identified, these are listed in subseries for 'Other Designers' in each category. The production files should be consulted for full credits for a project.
Physical Description
Extent: 28 boxes (735 legal size folders) ; 26 oversized boxes (flat draftings) ;14 map case files (draftings)
Type of Resource
Text
Identifiers
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16552276
MSS Unit ID: 19831
Archives collections id: archives_collections_19831
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): aa448970-5c99-0138-4ca0-574268839ab3
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