Playbill Recalls Equity Library Theater in Its Final Year at The Master

Pages from ELTPlaybill1989LR

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The esteemed Equity Library Theater was housed at the Master Theatre from 1961 through its final season in 1989. This Playbill from a 1989 production of Gigi provides a detailed look at the high quality of the productions presented, even at the end of its 46 year run. From the NYPL Archives overview of the ELT archives: “The Equity Library Theatre (ELT) was a theatre company in New York City from 1943 to 1989, founded by actor Sam Jaffe, a representative of the Actor’s Equity Association, and George Freedley, curator of the Theatre Collection of the New York Public Library. ELT was dedicated to showcasing unemployed Equity actors in classic and modern plays and musicals and to provide free theatre to New Yorkers…Equity Library Theatre was founded as a showcase theatre which would give actors an opportunity to play, develop and grow in their craft. By producing only revivals, ELT was purely an actor’s theatre, rather than a producer’s tryout, a director’s experiment, or a playwright’s developmental project.”

This lost New York institution is memorialized in the stained glass window above the Master Theatre, which includes the masks of comedy and tragedy along with the initials “ELT.” Thanks to Rachel Yohannes for providing this Playbill.

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