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David Gaard theatrical works and short stories

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2008-072

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains original and adapted works of playwright David Gaard, written alone and in collaboration with others, including his long-term partner, M. Sanford Kaplan. The materials include proposals, treatments, drafts, scripts, and screenplays for developed and undeveloped projects. The production project files contain a variety of production and promotional documentation, including scripts, set designs, e-mails, schedules, fliers, postcards, programs, and reviews.


  • circa 1965-2010



The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries 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.


David Gaard was born April 4, 1945, in Duluth, Minnesota. He graduated from high school early, just after his 16th birthday. He attended the University of Minnesota; however his participation in Vietnam War protests, a role in a university theater production, and an active social life left little time for his studies. In the autumn, he left school and stayed in Minneapolis, obtaining a role in a community theater production. When the show closed, he convinced his parents of his need to "find himself", and with their blessings he left for Los Angeles.

He found a number of positions through the California State Employment Office, including one with a Hollywood casting agency. Gaard also found bit parts in various stage productions through Minnesotan connections. His work and social life continued to leave little time to complete projects; after leaving a group sales position, Gaard returned to writing. For three months, he focused on writing each afternoon, allowing time in the evening for his social life. By early 1967, he had completed his first play, Lee Foster. After receiving positive feedback from friends, he relocated to New York City to sell his play.

In the city he found a "dark and depressing studio apartment in the bowels of Hells Kitchen", a job, and within a month met his future life companion, M. Sanford Kaplan, a married graduate anthropology student at New York University. While Kaplan sought to overcome his ambivalence about his future, Gaard returned to writing. By the autumn of 1968, Gaard had completed the play, And Puppy Dog Tails, and he and Kaplan were living together. The play previewed in September, only months after the Stonewall riots, and ran successfully through January 1970 in New York, and through that summer in San Francisco. The following year, Bill Murray played a part in a Chicago production.

Off-Off Broadway, with its understanding of the counter culture of which Gaard and Kaplan were a part, was booming. Gaard continued writing and Kaplan continued his graduate work, including a trip to Bali in the early 1970s. They arranged to meet in Nepal; during the trip Gaard purchased a script for Sun Yu's play The Women's Representative. He adapted the play and it was performed in New York. This changed the fortunes of Mr. Sun and led to Gaard's trip to the People's Republic of China a decade later.

In New York City, Gaard's works were been performed at The Old Reliable and The Extension; he adapted works for Richard Schechner's Performance Group and was a founding member of the Nighthouse Company. In 1975, Gaard and Kaplan left New York for Northern California. With the advent of AIDS, "the whimsical world of And Puppy Dog Tails had turned into a vicious frightening mad dog". They sold their telecom business, relocated to Woodstock, New York, and Gaard returned to writing in the early 1990s.

In 1994, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC) selected one of his plays for a reading of new works at Lincoln Center. In the following years Gaard worked with avant-garde troupes such as GAil GAtes et al, Gorilla Repertory Theatre Company, The International WOW, and New York Fringe Festival. The New Jersey Public Library selected his play, Made for Each Other, for their AIDS awareness series in 1996; however, library officials closed the play during the opening night intermission.

Gaard continued with several success productions at the HERE Arts Center. He garnered the Audience Favorite Award for his production of All's Well That Ends Well at the 2000 New York Fringe Festival. Gaard lived in New York, New York with his life companion of 45 years, until his death in March 2012.


10 Linear Feet (6 archives cartons, 1 archives box, 1 archives half-box, 2 archives flat boxes.)

Language of Materials



Scripts and screenplays of original theatrical works and adaptations for the stage and screen by David Gaard, alone and in collaboration with others. Production and performance materials, including contracts, set designs, printouts of e-mail, schedules, fliers, postcards, programs, and reviews.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1. Original Writings

Series 2. Adaptions and Productions

Series 3. Personal and Miscellaneous

Acquisition Information

Gift of David Gaard per deeds of gift dated December 29, 2001; February 22, 2005; November 20, 2007; and donation accessioned September 14, 2010.

Separated Materials

The following materials were separated to the ONE Periodical collection:

Center Happenings (New York, New York) Volume 24, Issue 4 (April 2008); Volume 23, Issue 6 (June/July 2008)

Gay City News (New York, New York) June 19-25, 2008

HX (New York, New York) Issue 736 (October 2005) and 2 copies of Issue 877 (June 2008)

On The Purple Circuit Volume 11, Number 3

The following VHS (TM) videotapes of Gaard performances were separated to the ONE Audio/Visual collection

VV3006 Made for Each Other

VV3007 90 Degrees from the Equinox by Michael Counts

VV3008 Sheets

Processing Information

Collection processed by Michael C. Oliveira, December 2008. Accrual processed and finding aid revised by Jennifer Darwent, 2014.

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. An accretion to the collection in 2014 has been funded by a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.


Bausch, Richard, 1945-
Brecht, Bertold, 1898-1956
Carroll, Lewis, 1832-1898
Cummins, Robert
Ionesco, Eugene, 1909-1994
Kaplan, M. Sanford
Kingsley, Sidney, 1906-1995
Lentsch, Bill
Muldowney, Dominic, 1952-
Peterson, John
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
Sophocles, 496 BCE-406 BCE
Swenson, Swen, 1932-
Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950
Yu, Sun, 1900-
Finding Aid to the David Gaard Theatrical Works and Short Stories
Michael C. Oliveira and Jennifer Darwent.
© 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in: English
An initial donation has been funded in part by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. An accretion to the collection in 2014 has been funded by a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771