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Theatre Guild Picnic production records

Call Number: RH MS 1563


This collection contains a draft copy of the Theatre Guild script for Picnic by William Inge; contracts; legal correspondence regarding the Theatre Guild production of Inge's play; music agreements; and correspondence. The collection provides insight into the legal and financial circumstances associated with producing the award-winning production, as well as some documentation regarding rights for other productions of the play and producing a movie version.


  • Creation: March 1, 1949 - November 8, 1972 (bulk 1950s)

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of William Inge (1913-1973)

William Motter Inge was born in Independence, Kansas. He studied speech and drama at the University of Kansas and graduated in 1935. He received his Master's degree from George Peabody College at Nashville, Tennessee in 1938. He worked as a teacher, laborer, and theater critic. He is best known as a playwright and novelist. In his lifetime he earned both a Pulitzer Prize for Picnic and an Academy Award for the screenplay to the motion picture Splendor in the Grass. His later works did not achieve this same acclaim and this lack of notice is believed to have played a factor in his suicide in 1973 at the age of 60.

Picnic, originally titled "Front Porch," opened in New York City, New York at the Music Box Theatre on February 19, 1953. It ran for a total of 477 performances before closing April 10, 1954. The production won Tony Awards for Best Director (Joshua Logan) and Best Stage Techician (John Davis). Paul Newman and Eileen Heckart won Theatre World Awards for their performances. Picnic and Inge won the 1953 Pulizer Prize for Drama.

Columbia Pictures produced a movie version of the play in 1955, released in movie theaters in 1956. The movie received 6 Academy Award nominations and won two for Art Direction and Editing. Inge wrote and published in 1962 what he called a reworked version of Picnic, called Summer Brave, which did not see the same success as the original play. Joshua Logan, the original director, oversaw a musical adaptation of Picnic called Hot September in the mid-1960s.

The story is set in a small Kansas town and includes a cast of several female characters, including Flo Owens and her daughters Madge and Mille; a schoolteacher, Rosemary, who lives with the Owens; and Helen, who is a next door neighbor. Male drifter Hal comes to town to visit his friend Alan, who is dating Madge. In Picnic, Madge follows Hal when he must flee the town; in Summer Brave, Madge does not leave with Hal.

[Information pulled from Cloud Hill Books collection inventory and collection materials.]


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 1563

Other Finding Aids

Additional detail about individual items in the collection is available in the bookseller's inventory. Contact staff for assistance if wishing to see this inventory.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Clouds Hill Books, 2022.


Guide to the Theatre Guild Picnic Production Records Collection
Theatre Guild Picnic production records
Finding aid prepared by mmj. Finding aid encoded by mmj.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Theatre Guild <emph render=”italic”>Picnic</emph> production records collection, RH MS 1563, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States