Sarah Lawrence College Archives

Guide to the john braswell (1939-1989) PAPERS, N.D., 1964-1987

Administrative Information

Volume: 1 record carton, 1 oversize box (2.5 linear feet)
Processing Information: Processed by Tara James, fall 1999. Reprocessed and finding aid updated June 2005 by Sarah Crossley.
Acquisition Information: Donated by Pearl Braswell, 1999.
Terms of Use: The majority of the collection is open to researchers without restriction.
© 2005 Sarah Lawrence College Archives, Esther Raushenbush Library, 1 Mead Way, Bronxville, NY 10708

Biographical Note

John Braswell was born on March 16, 1939 in Paxton, Illinois.  He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana before coming to Sarah Lawrence College to study theatre in 1958.  Upon completion of his M.F.A. in 1959, Braswell was appointed to the Sarah Lawrence theatre faculty, where he co-developed the theatre workshop program with Wilford Leach.  In addition to his tenure at Sarah Lawrence, Braswell co-founded and co-directed the ETC Company/La Mama, where many of his plays were performed.  Until his death, Braswell had remained open about both his homosexuality and his diagnosis of AIDS, even announcing it to the theatre department.  He died February 14, 1989 of complications from AIDS in Champagne, Illinois.

Scope and Content

The John Braswell Papers consist mainly of manuscripts and theatre scripts.  Original artwork, musical scores, theatre programs and reviews round out the collection.  The collection is small but representative of the substantial creative body of work of which Braswell conceived.  The collection is divided into six series:       

Series I. Biographical and Miscellaneous
Series II. Artwork
Series III. Lyrics
Series IV. Manuscripts
Series V. Scripts
Series VI. Scores

The collection is mainly housed in one record carton.  However, four folders, belonging with the regular series are housed in a second oversize box.  The newspaper clippings and Village Voice Off-Broadway OBI award are part of Series I, while “Obligato” and “Three Billy Goats Gruff” belong in Series IV.

See Also:  John Braswell Photograph Collection for photographs donated with this collection as well as the Sarah Lawrence College Faculty Files for information pertaining to Braswell’s tenure at the college.

Series Descriptions

Series I. biographical and miscellaneous, n.d., 1964-1992

Contains curriculum vitae, sparse correspondence, newspaper clippings, theatre programs and reviews.

Series II. artwork, n.d., 1978-1986

Consists mostly of original watercolors divided into an unnamed book and individual works. There are also some drawings and exhibition information for "Crows" at the Chameleon Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

Series iii. lyrics, n.d., 1979

Contains lyrics for Braswell's 1979 "Song Night in the City" as well as lyrics not authored by Braswell, himself, for the musical "Streetdreams" which he directed but did not write.

Series Iv. manuscripts, n.d., 1976, 1987

This is one of the larger series of this collection, consists of some of Braswell’s original works intended for publication in book form.  Included are Acting: The Method in the Madness (Unpublished), The Artificial Grandmother (Unfinished), (Sweet) Basil: The Working Dog (Unpublished illustrated children’s book), and Moment of Bliss (Unpublished, written by Braswell, and illustrated by Susan Haskins).

Series v. scripts, n.d., 1972-1987

This series is probably the most significant part of the John Braswell papers, this series consists of theatrical scripts, mostly authored by Braswell, himself.  Those created by other playwrights are noted as such.  Additionally, two Sarah Lawrence Faculty Show scripts are housed in this series.  Some scripts contain handwritten notes such as Champagne Anyone?, The Elephant Calf, and The Interior CastleA Kind of Hamlet was written by Jim Coates and re-written again by Charles Soule in 1882.  The Moon’s On Fire is a play addressing issues of homosexuality.  Reviews and programs corresponding with scripts are housed in their own folders in Series I.

Series vI. scores, n.d.

This series contains the musical scores for theatrical plays. The series is small and one-third of it is authored by someone other than Braswell. This is noted in the folder list and on the folder.

Folder List

Box 1:

Series I. biographical and miscellaneous

1. Curriculum Vitae, n.d., ca. 1976
2. Correspondence, n.d., 1981-1992
3. Miscellaneous, n.d., 1976
4. Newspaper Clippings, n.d., 1972, 1986-1990
5. Programs, n.d., 1964-1987
6. Reviews, n.d., 1972-1973, 1979

series ii. artwork

7. Drawings, n.d.
8. Exhibition: “Crows,” Chameleon Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, n.d.
9. Watercolor Book, Untitled, 1986
10. Watercolors, n.d., 1978, 1985-1986

series iii. lyrics

11. Song Night in the City, 1979
12. "Streetdreams" (not authored by Braswell), n.d.

series iv. manuscripts

13. “Acting: The Method in the Madness,” n.d.
14. “The Artificial Grandmother,” ca. 1970s
15. “The Incan Princess,” n.d.
16. “A Moment of Bliss,” (authored by John Braswell, illustrated by Susan Haskins) n.d.
17. “(Sweet) Basil, the Working Dog,” 1976

series v. scripts

18. “Anouijan: The Genius,” 1987
19. “Artificial Love: A Comedy in Two Parts,” n.d.
20. “Buried Child” (not authored by Braswell), n.d.
21. “Champagne, Anyone?” n.d.
22. “Child’s Garden of Curse: A Domestic Tragedy,” n.d.
23. “Corsage”
24. “The Early African Piece,” 1973
25. “The Elephant Calf,” n.d.
26. “Four Saints in Three Acts” (not authored by Braswell), n.d.
27. “Hamlet Revamped” (not authored by Braswell), 1882
28. “Incarnate” (SLC Faculty Shows), 1985, 1987
29. “The Interior Castle,” n.d., 1973, 1979
30. “King Stag: An Adaptation From the Original,” n.d.
31. “The Moon’s on Fire,” n.d.
32. “Nobody Should Sleep with Everybody (The Bar That Never Closes), 1972
33. “Pecan, a Déjà vu,” ca. 1981
34. “Therapy,” n.d.
35. “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” n.d.
36. “Tree of Night,” n.d.
37. “Troyer,” n.d.

series vi. scores

38. "Troyer," n.d.

Box 2:

Newspaper Clippings, ca. 1970-1971
Village Voice Off-Broadway Award (OBI), n.d.
“Obligato” (not authored by Braswell), n.d.
“Three Billy Goats Gruff,” n.d.