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Theatre in the Square Collection, 1982-2012

Identifier: SC-T-001

Content Description

The Theatre in the Square Collection consists of materials related to the operation and administration of the theatre dating from 1982 to 2012. The bulk of the materials relate to production files from almost all the theatrical productions produced by the theater, including theatrical programs, posters, photographic materials, videocassettes (VHS), scripts, and production information. Other materials relate to publicity, development, fundraising, awards and special events, including reviews, clippings, marketing materials, corporation sponsorship, fundraising campaigns, and other items. Included are also materials relating to administrative matters; programs, projects, and workshops; business and financial records; and other items. The collection contains a considerable amount of photographic materials, such as photographic prints, negatives, slides, and contact sheets, as well as audiovisual materials, including approximately 70 sound discs (CD), 39 videodiscs (DVD), and 135 videocassettes (VHS). A number of those audiovisual materials contain recordings of various theatrical productions. Of particular interest are the files related to the controversy that reached national audiences surrounding the theatrical production of Lips Together, Teeth Apart, in 1993, which prompted the passing of a pro-family/anti-gay resolution by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners that condemned what they termed as "the gay lifestyle" and terminated all public arts funding for the county.


  • Creation: 1982-2012


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state “right to privacy” laws.  Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal cause for action if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person. KSU archives staff have taken care to identify and, in some cases, remove sensative information found within its archival collections when undertaking archival processing work.  However, privacy protected information may be revealed during use of the archival collections, particularly in those collections that are unprocessed or have been minimally processed. Researchers agree to make no notes or other recordation of privacy protected information if found within the archival collections, and further agree not to publish, publicize, or disclose such information to any other party for any purpose if found within the archival collections. Researchers agree to indemnify and hold harmless Kennesaw State University and its officers, employees, and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions, and expenses arising out of use of archival collections held by the Kennesaw State University Archives.

Physical Access Restrictions

For preservation reasons, physical access to original audio and visual media in a variety of magnetic and optic formats is restricted. Access to all original media, especially in obsolete formats, will require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact the Archives in advance to request access.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Permission to publish, reproduce, publicly display, broadcast, or distribute this material must be secured from the repository and/or copyright holder.

Biographical or Historical Information

Theatre in the Square was founded in 1982 by Michael Horne and Palmer Wells. Originally located in the former banquet hall of the old Marietta Depot restaurant, with a seating capacity of 85 and the first professional theatre in Cobb County, it later moved in 1985 to a larger space off the historic Marietta Square in downtown Marietta, Georgia. It was a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of civic leaders from around the Atlanta metropolitan area. It was a full production professional theatre presenting year-round theatrical productions on two stages, the main 225-seat stage and the 125-seat Alley Stage, and presented about 445 performances yearly, including Broadway and Off-Broadway-type productions, award winning plays, original works, modern classics, musicals, as well as children's productions, a show in celebration of Black History Month, a playreading series, and holiday musicals. The theatre also offered a variety of educational and outreach programming, including shows for students in grades K-12 and college, and acting classes for children, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens. Theatre in the Square was the largest arts organization in Cobb County and produced edgy and sometimes controversial plays, receiving praise from regional and national critics. It received various grants, including the first organization in Cobb County to receive one from the National Endowment for the Arts, awards such as the ACLU's First Amendment Award for its support of artistic and personal freedom, and high praise from the Atlanta theatre community for its eclectic mix of plays and high production values. In 1991, the theater opened the experimental Alley Stage, which underwent renovations in 1998, increasing the seating capicity from 60 to 152 seats. The 1993-1994 season presented one of the most challenging years for the theatre. Two of the productions presented during that season, M. Butterfly and Lips Together, Teeth Apart, brought forth critical praise and commercial success, but also negative and adverse reaction in the relatively conservative Cobb County. The season opener, M. Butterfly, althougth critically lauded, it drew some negative response due to its incorporation of nudity and its dealing with sensative sexual issues. But it was the latter one, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, that brought forth a controversy that reached national audiences and prompted Cobb County Board of Commissioners, and its most vocal supporter, Gordon Wyson, to pass a resolution on August 1993 terminating all public arts funding, including around $41,000.00 for Theatre in the Square. The issue originated when a patron allegedly complained that the theatrical production somehow promoted homosexuality, which prompted the commission to end arts funding and pass a resolution condemning what they termed as "the gay lifestyle." The theater lost around 1,000 subscribers and struggled through a deficit, but eventually rebounded a few years later. In 1996, one of the founders, Michael W. Horne died, but the theatre continued to present high quality, and often controversial and edgy plays, including Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (1998-1999 season), The Lynching of Leo Frank (2000-2001 season), which explored a dark footnote in local history, and Take Me Out (2004-2005 season), a comedy-drama about an openly gay major baseball player. In 2007, the theater embarked on a campaign to refurbish and expand its facilities. However, 2008 brought forth the financial collapse and resulted in the demise of several financial contributions by large donors. Additionally, several ongoing grants did not materialized, such as those from the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund and the Georgia Council for the Arts, and others diminished in funding. By 2011, the theater was undergoing a funding crisis, and eventually closed its doors in March 2012.


90 cubic feet (13 audiovisual boxes, 9 oversize flat boxes, 6 document cases, 72 record cartons)

Language of Materials



Items have been physically maintained, for the most part, as received by the repository. However, seven series' have been created and all series and files/items have been arranged alphabetically within the online finding aid. The seven series' are: Series 1. Production Files; Series 2. Publicity, Development and Fundraising, Awards, and Special Events; Series 3. Programs, Projects, and Workshops; Series 4. Administrative Records; Series 5. Business and Financial Records; Series 6. Audio and Visual Materials; and Series 7. Miscellaneous. Series 1: Production Files Series 1 contains the bulk of the materials from the collection, and are related to almost all the theatrical productions produced by Theatre in the Square over the years. Materials include almost every program from each theatrical production produced by the theater; a large number of scripts, including blocking scripts; fliers; brochures; press releases; letters; rehearsal schedules; broadsides; budget-related documents; reviews; box office records; marketing plans; newspaper and magazine clippings; musical scores; stage design drawings; performance logs; a considerable amount of photographic materials, including photographic prints, negatives, slides, and contact sheets; as well as audiovisual materials, including videodiscs (DVD), sound discs (CD), and various videocassettes (VHS) with recordings of a number of theatrical productions. Series 2: Publicity, Development and Fundraising, Awards, and Special Events Series 2 contains materials related to publicity, development/marketing, fundraising, awards, and special events associatied with Theatre in the Square. Materials include letters and correspondence; newspapers and clippings; publications; brochures; fliers; general press releases; invitations; reports; documents related to grants, including grant applications, related reports, and evaluations, which provide the researcher valuable snapshots of the development of the organization at various points when it sought funding; files related to various fundraisers, such as "Stepping into the Spotlight Capital Campaign"; and materials related to special events such as receptions, plays, and award ceremonies, such as the Annual Jennie Awards. It also includes photographic materials, as well as videocassettes (VHS) with news segments, interviews, proclamations, plaques, and recordings of events. Series 3. Programs, Projects, and Workshops This series contains files on the various programs, projects, and workshops sponsored by the Theatre in the Square, such as the Percolating Playreading Series, Square One Series, and others. Series 4. Administrative Records Series 4 contains materials related to the general operation and administration of Theatre in the Square, including materials related to the Board of Directors, including correspondence and meetings; by-laws; historical information; surveys and questionaires; files related to human resources, such as staff information, personnel policies, and job descriptions; documents related to the Actors' Equity Association, such as contracts and correspondence; reports; draft of speeches given by Palmer Wells; information regarding other arts organizations; research materials; lease agreements; and other items. Series 5. Business and Financial Records This series includes financial and bank statements; general ledgers; budgets; box office reports; income tax returns; audit-related records; rights and licenses; payroll reports; donation reports; and other documents. Series 6. Audio and Visual Materials This series contains audiovisual materials which did not correspond to any of the other series', including photographic prints, negatives, slides, contact sheets, sound discs (CD), sound cassettes, and floppy disks. Included are images of the founders, Palmer Wells and Michael Horne, the theater's staff, the theater's exterior and interior, theater renovations, staff holidays, Marietta Square, and a number of unidentified/miscellaneous materials. Series 7. Miscellaneous This series consists of materials which did not fit into any of the other series', and/or otherwise were found loose throughout the boxes in the collection, including personal files from co-founder Michael Horne, including his high school yearbook (1973) and personal photographic prints; technical drawings of the theater's facade; research, historical, and general information; and other items.

Method of Acquisition

The bulk of the collection was donated by Philip M. Goldstein on May 26, 2014 (Accession 13-058). Other donations by Theatre on the Square on March 22, 2012 (Accession 12-004); Dewi Wilson on May 9, 2014 (Accession 14-043). Other accessions: 15-030; 15-078; 15-094.

Processing Information

Processed by: Armando Suarez and student assistant, Jennifer W. Schulze, May 2017

Armando Suarez
2017 May
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 2020 July: updated by Maggie Thomas

Repository Details

Part of the Kennesaw State University Archives Repository

1000 Chastain Road
MD 1704
Kennesaw GA 30144 GKJ