Abbey Hafer is a PhD Candidate in the Art History department at Emory University specializing in early modern Italian art and architecture. She is a Graduate Processing Assistant for the Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers at Rose Library.
This newly available subseries of the Geoffrey Holder papers consists of hundreds of scripts and related documents spanning Holder’s long and prolific career (circa 1957-2010). The collection includes scripts and screenplays for television shows, films, theatrical plays and musicals, video games, advertisements, and more. It also includes related correspondence, production materials, and research materials.
Highlights of the collection include scripts for productions in which Holder played a creative role. Holder authored musicals, like The Odyssey of Anna and Her Red Pumps (circa 1991) and Sister Alice in Wonderland (circa 1998-2001); directed productions, including The Wiz (1975) and Timbuktu! (1978); and performed roles in films and theatrical productions, such as Annie (1981), Boomerang (1992), Doctor Dolittle (1966), Live and Let Die (1972), and House of Flowers (circa 1954 and 1968).
Many of these scripts contain hand-written annotations, appear in multiple drafts and distinct versions, and are arranged with artist notes. Together, these materials provide evidence for Holder’s creative process. Scripts for productions in which he played a role are often annotated. In a script for the 1982 film Annie, covered in a distinctive yellow binding with gold lettering, Holder used a thick blue pencil to circle and bracket the lines for his character “Punjab.” In addition to this script, Holder kept an earlier version of the Annie script, line revisions, song lyrics, the shooting schedule and call sheets, and related correspondence. All of these materials are available in the Scripts subseries.
The subseries also contains a considerable volume of materials related to The Odyssey of Anna and Her Red Pumps (circa 1991), a script written by Holder. Multiple outlines, treatments, and consecutive drafts reveal something of Holder’s working process. A page of one outline, dated March 25, 1992, demonstrates his active revision process. Pencil marks cross out lines of text, rewrite passages, and move others around the page. The collection also includes copious artist notes, casting photos and resumes, and an illustrated version titled The Odyssey of Anna In Her Scarlet Pumps.
In 1975, Holder directed The Wiz on Broadway, which won seven Tony Awards, including Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design for Holder. Significant materials related to The Wiz include multiple script drafts, production materials, audition materials, and correspondence. Drawings and artist notes, like the ones pictured below, also contribute to a picture of Holder’s working process. The sketch-like quality of both the image and the notes suggest that Holder made them quickly at some point in the production process—they are unfiltered glimpses at Holder’s imaginative practice.
Throughout his career, Holder voiced a number of roles in video games, advertisements, and ceremonies. Holder often heavily annotated these scripts, marking up the texts with phonetic cues to aid with pronunciation. They also appear in varying sizes; usually printed on both standard printer paper and on an oversize legal paper with larger font. For his role in the video game Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (Jean St. Mouchoir), Holder used the large print copies included below. Here you see the same page in two different text sizes, both heavily annotated with notes on pronunciation and emphasis.
Make an appointment at Emory’s Rose Library to see these materials and many more fascinating examples of Geoffrey Holder’s scripts.