Imperial Books and Collectibles, LLC, was recently asked to process and market a large collection of books from the Library of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Now in its 65th Season, The Milwaukee Rep, or just The Rep, as it is affectionately known in Wisconsin, is dedicated to providing the highest level of professional theater locally while also offering a wide range of education and community outreach programs. The Rep is currently housed in a former power generation plant along the Milwaukee River near City Hall and currently boasts two theaters and the Stackner Cabaret, which offers a full-service restaurant and bar.
The Rep has experienced significant growth in recent years and as a result has run out of office space. This has created an urgent need to expand into the existing library area, necessitating the removal of approximately 1500 books. This is where Imperial Books enters the scene, stage right.
The collection is amazing and rarely becomes commercially available in bulk. In addition to items of historical significance, such as marked up plays and antique volumes, some dating back to the 18th Century, the vast majority of the collection is comprised of what are called, Director’s Editions, of plays. These are small paperbacks published by Samuel French, Inc., The Dramatic Publishing Co., The Theatre Communications Group, Inc., among others. They contain not only the play, but Author Notes, Prop and Costume Instructions, Stage Charts and the like, needed to produce the play as the playwright intended. They also contain information related to Royalties and authorizations for someone, like the Rep, who might be interested in scheduling the Play at their Theater.
Some of these publications are marked up, some are signed by their author’s or by directors and actors, such as Kenneth L. Albers, who worked for many years with the Rep. But most are in virtually pristine conditions due to the fact that the publishers would send them to the Rep in the hope that they would be produced. Since that happened only rarely, the Rep, instead of trashing the books, dutifully placed them on the library shelves never to be touched again until now.
That is why we have about a 1000 of these booklets, from Christmas tales to Shakespearian tragedies, in our possession and are posting them on our various platforms as quickly as possible. While some are still in publication, most, largely from the 1970’s and 80’s, are long out of print in this format and very hard to find, until now.
Author: William D. Adams