A donation of around 200 hardbound scripts will further expand research and performance opportunities in the Theatre Department.

The collection was donated by Dr. Jim Lile, a professor of theatre.

“I used to belong to what was the theater equivalent of a book-of-the-month club,” said Lile. “It was called Fireside Theatre. You’d join and they’d send you scripts.

“It was marvelous because oftentimes they’d send you a copy within weeks of a show opening in New York City. Some months it would be a new play, other times it would be a classic or a new translation of a work. I was a member for years.”

He and his wife – Ann Lile, herself a former member of the faculty – were recently downsizing and decided to donate the collection of roughly 200 plays to the department.

“There are a lot of American and British plays, as well as anthologies,” he said. “We figured it would be good for them to get a second life where students might be able to use them.”

Erick Wolfe, department chair, said the collection represents a major expansion to the collected works that students already have access to in a small study room in the Fine Arts Building.

“It will give our students more access to plays when they’re doing research, or doing one-acts or scene work,” Wolfe said. “They can be used in students taking directing, acting or design classes, or doing improv work or fight choreography.

“We’re also about to start a dramaturgy class, so students will be selecting plays and doing research on the author and production.”

While Wolfe hasn’t gone through the full collection, he said, the titles include older works, classics, shows written by playwrights who may not be well-known, all the way to newer plays by the likes of David Mamet. And the hardbound volumes definitely stand out from the mostly paperback scripts already in the department’s library.

“For plays to be bound like this, I find it very rare,” he said.