Blankenchip (John Edward) papers Edit

Summary

Identifier
0356
Finding Aid Author
Beth McDonald
Finding Aid Date
2016 April
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Dates

  • circa 1900-2007, undated (Creation)

Extents

  • 17.82 Linear Feet (Whole)
    13 boxes

Agent Links

Subjects

Notes

  • Biographical / Historical

    John Edward Blankenchip joined USC in 1955, just a decade after the drama department was founded by playwright and director William C. DeMille, and continued to teach classes in directing and experimental theatre at the school until a month before he died at the age of 89. Born in Independence, Kan., in 1919, he earned a BFA in design and directing from Carnegie Mellon University in 1941. He immediately went to Yale University, attaining an MFA in design and directing in 1943. For the next three years, first as assistant to designer Harry Horner and then on his own, he designed scenery, costumes and lighting both on and off Broadway. From Broadway, Blankenchip moved to teaching. After eight years on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College, he decided to spend his 1955 sabbatical working as a designer at USC. James H. Butler, then head of the drama department, offered him a teaching position. Blankenchip accepted and had been teaching at USC ever since. Blankenchip founded, produced and directed Festival Theatre USC-USA, a company comprised of USC students and alumni who were the first American artists to perform on the Fringe of the Edinburgh International Festival. From 1966 to 2005, the company mounted 23 seasons on the Fringe; performed in London, Amsterdam and Paris; and completed three tours for the AMERIKA houses in Germany for the U.S. State Department. He received Fringe First Awards for the British premieres of Buried Child and Follies. He directed the acclaimed production of Vivien at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in London, off Broadway and in Los Angeles at the Tiffany Theatre. Blankenchip also designed at Tanglewood, the Guild Opera and the La Jolla Playhouse, and he directed and designed for the Ebony Showcase. He was Ray Bradbury's preferred designer at his Pandemonium Theatre Company. Blankenchip's professionalism manifested itself through former students who have gone on to successful careers both in and out of the theatre. He played a key role in developing the original BFA and MFA theatre programs at USC, and from nearly the beginning, has been vital to the School of Theatre's growing excellence. He died on April 1, 2009 after a brief illness.

  • Scope and Contents

    Programs, photographs, and ephemera created and collected by John Edward Blankenchip, professor emeritus in the USC School of Theatre, circa 1900-2007. The papers document the long participation of Blankenchip and the School with the Festival Theatre USC-USA and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Also included are papers documenting Blankenchip's work with students at USC, and personal papers, including many photographs.

  • Abstract

    Papers of John Edward Blankenchip, professor emeritus of the USC School of Theatre. Blankenchip joined USC in 1955, just a decade after the drama department was founded by playwright and director William C. DeMille, and continued to teach classes in directing and experimental theatre at the school until a month before he died at the age of 89.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: Advance notice required for access.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], John Edward Blankenchip papers, Collection no. 0356, University Archives, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

  • Related Archival Materials

    USC School of Dramatic Arts records, Collection no. 5287

Components