The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Hattiesburg Little Theatre Collection
Collection Number: M331
Dates: ca. 1965-1977
Volume: 29 items
The Hattiesburg Little Theatre in Hattiesburg, Mississippi was reorganized in 1960 after thirty years of inactivity, and presented theatrical productions until approximately 1982. The founders included civic leaders, local business people, University of Southern Mississippi faculty and alumni, and often, their respective spouses. Unlike professional theatre in which actors, directors, designers, and craftsmen are paid for their assigned tasks, community theatre relies almost entirely on its dedicated volunteers. True to this tradition, members of the Theatre's Board of Directors governed the organization, as well as designed and constructed the sets and costumes, and performed roles on stage.
The Hattiesburg Little Theatre maintained its first residency in a hangar at the Bobby Chain Municipal Airport, south of Hattiesburg. In the early 1970's, the airport suffered a fire that displaced the theatre company. The Holiday Inn Hotel at 900 Broadway Drive, served as temporary headquarters for approximately two to four years. Performances were staged in the hotel's ballroom. During 1975, Dr. Julian Katz , owner of the Royal Street Andre Hotel (also known as the America Building, and originally known as the Ross Building) at 207 E. Front Street, offered to lease the top floor of his building for a permanent home to the Hattiesburg Little Theatre. The rent was $200 per month.
Primarily, the company produced and performed contemporary dramas, comedies and murder mystery plays, and typically produced three to four different plays per year. In an effort to secure a more desirable location for the theatre, local businessmen Rodney and Wiley Fairchild donated a building located at 126 E. Pine Street in 1977. The building needed extensive renovation, but when fund raising efforts failed to reach fruition, the property remained undeveloped, and the building was eventually torn down. Around 1982, the Hattiesburg Little Theatre became inactive.
During the summer of 1985, a splinter group, led by Nancy Albers, reorganized to produce a one-time performance to benefit the Citivan Camp for Retarded Adults. The production received such a positive response from the community that the ensemble established a charter board of directors for a newly named community theatre. The Hattiesburg Little Theatre is credited as being the forerunner of this company, Just Over The Rainbow Theatre (JORT.). At present, JORT is producing and performing plays at the Cloverleaf Mall, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
This collection contains an assortment of documents that reflect the promotional, administrative, and financial aspects of The Hattiesburg Little Theatre during the years 1965-1977. The documents from this community theatre include promotional fundraising materials, correspondence, financial statements, memorandums, membership and officer rosters, meeting minutes, play programs, and stationery.
Folder One contains two "Supporting Membership" invitations. The budgets for productions were derived from patron memberships, donations, and box office ticket sales. One invitation contains a small card soliciting volunteers for hospitality and non-performance production tasks.
Folder Two holds five items of correspondence from the presidential tenure of Mr. C. C. Sullivan, dated from February 23, 1976 to October 8, 1976. One item of interest is a typed resignation letter addressed to "C. C. Sullivan" from "Howard Wheat." Diagonally across the letter, in large handwriting, are the words "Resignation withdrawn - Howard will continue to serve."
Folder Three is comprised of two memorandums with Standard Oil logos, dated 1976. The memorandums are from "C. C. Sullivan, Agent, Hattiesburg, Miss.," and addressed to "Little Theatre Committees."
Folder Four contains ten financial statements dating from December 4, 1975 - November 30, 1976.
Folder Five holds play programs for:
Folder Six contains minutes to the Annual General Meeting and the regular monthly meeting held on January 13, 1976.
Folder Seven is comprised of four rosters:
Folder Eight holds six sheets of stationery with the "Hattiesburg Little Theatre" letterhead.
This collection would be of interest to theatre historians researching little theatre organizations, and to those interested in the history of Hattiesburg's cultural arts.