Playwright Neil Simon’s papers go to the Library of Congress

NEW YORK (AP) – Dozens of notebooks, manuscripts, speeches, draft letters, works of art and even signed baseballs owned by the late playwright Neil Simon have been donated to the Library of Congress. The collection offers to offer historians and researchers access to the creative process of American theater’s most successful and productive playwright.

The collection includes about 7,700 items documenting the development of Simon’s plays and scripts, including “Barfoot in the Park”, “The Sunshine Boys”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Lost in Yonkers”.

The donation will be officially announced at a special event featuring actors Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker – both are currently starring in a Broadway revival of “Plaza Suite” – and Elaine Joyce, Simon’s widow Monday night at the library. It will be livestreamed from kl. 19 ET on the library’s YouTube channel.

The cache includes a yellowing first act of “Barfoot in the Park”, lots of notes for actors or directors and over a dozen notepads filled with watercolors, drawings and cartoons by Simon. There are also several scripts for programs that have never been completed or produced, such as one titled “The Merry Widows,” written for Bette Midler and Whoopi Goldberg.

“The donation of Simon’s papers to our country’s library is a valuable addition to our portfolio that enhances our performing arts collection as one of the best in the world. It also ensures that Simon’s legacy is preserved for generations to come, ”said Congress Librarian Carla Hayden in a statement.

Simon was nominated for 14 Tony Awards throughout his career and won three, in addition to a special award for contributions to the theater. He also won the Pulitzer Prize, the Mark Twain Prize for American humor and a Kennedy Center honor, as well as having a theater named after him on Broadway. He died in 2018 in New York City.

The donated materials range from hundreds of manuscripts, notes and contours to his plays, including handwritten first drafts and several drafts of typefaces, to personal notebooks and signed baseballs.

The Library of Congress is already home to the collections of several Broadway icons, including Arthur Laurents, Marvin Hamlisch and Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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