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Records of the Practical Theatre Company

Identifier: 55/47

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of production files, photographs and other materials related to the Practical Theatre Company (PTC), a Chicago-based theatre company founded by Northwestern University students and active throughout the 1980s.


  • 1979 - 2011
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1979 - 1989
  • Other: Date acquired: 04/09/2012


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Paul Barrosse is the creator of these materials and wishes to retain any copyrights.  Northwestern University has the rights to use the material per the Deed of Gift.


21.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



The Practical Theatre Company (PTC) was a Chicago-based theatre company founded by Northwestern University students and active throughout the 1980s. Its productions included new plays, satiric agitprop, rock and roll events, and a series of successful improvisational comedy revues. The PTC, whose motto was “Art is Good”, is notable for the fact that the entire cast of its 1982 improvisational comedy revue, “The Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee” (Brad Hall, Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gary Kroeger and Paul Barrosse) was hired by Saturday Night Live.


The collection is arranged in four series: Subject Files, Production Files, Photographs and Oversized Materials.

The Subject Files are arranged alphabetically by folder title and contain general information about theatre budgets, history, board meetings, actors, box office numbers, etc.  These files document the development of the company’s general vision, administrative processes, physical setting, cast auditions, and interaction with the Chicago theatre/improvisation world. Examples of material include consultant’s reports, staff contact sheets, grant applications, miscellaneous histories and notes, season schedules and proposed schedules, physical renovation materials, touring information, and improvisation workshop practices, among other topics.

The Production Files are arranged alphabetically by production title and contain scripts, notes, reviews, promotional materials, and more for each production. These files document the artistic and administrative history of the productions, including developing material for shows, rehearsal and performance notes, collateral material for promoting shows, and press coverage.

The Photographs are arranged alphabetically and contain pictures of individual actors (headshots and performance shots) and of the casts of various productions.  There are some actor photographs in audition files in the Subject Files series as well.

Finally, the Oversized Materials contain several large subject files, and some production posters.  These include material covering the shooting death of David Bell and material relating to the assassination of John Lennon, for whom the John Lennon Auditorium (JLA) was named.

Source of Acquisition

Paul Barrosse

Method of Acquisition

Accession # 11-153

Accruals and Additions

The collection also contains material from Accession # 12-7, donated by Rush Pearson on 1/11/2012.

Separated Materials

24 VHS tapes (#2813-2836) of productions have been removed and placed in the Archives’ Video collection. DVD copies (#335-359) of the VHS tapes have been removed and placed in the Archives’ DVD collection. Titles of production films listed below.  Some mold-damaged items from Accession #12-7 were photocopied and discarded.  A number of posters from this accession were also removed and added to Series 31/6/77, Records of the Mee-Ow Show, as an addition.

Guide to the Records of the Practical Theatre Company
Charles Ford and Benn Joseph, 2011 and Jason Nargis, 2012.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US