Thomas Bradac theater papers
Scope and Contents
This collection contains records, documents, memorabilia, photographs, slides and ephemera of Thomas Bradac that chronicle his involvement with the Grove Shakespeare Festival and GEM Theatre from 1979 to 1991, Shakespeare Orange County at Chapman University from 1991 to 2003, and Shakespeare Orange County in Garden Grove from 2004 to 2013.
Series 1: Material focuses on the Grove Shakespeare Festival and GEM Theatre from 1979 to 1991 and contains records and documents captured during Bradac's directorship. Additional materials include information on performances, newspaper clippings, periodicals, articles, actor reviews, and photographic press kits from various productions.
Series 2: Material focuses on Shakespeare Orange County, in residence at Chapman University from 1991 to 2003, and contains records and documents, photographic materials, newspaper clippings, periodicals, articles, actor reviews, and memorabilia from Thomas Bradac and Shakespeare Orange County.
Series 3: Material focuses on Shakespeare Orange County, in residence at the Festival Amphitheater of Garden Grove from 2004 to 2013. Materials include stage production stills, photographs, scripts, production notes, programs, press releases, and newspaper clippings.
Series 4: This series contains personal memorabilia from Thomas Bradac.
- Bradac, Thomas (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.
Biographical / Historical
Born in 1947, Thomas Bradac graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor and Master of Arts and he has been a theater professional for 50 years. Bradac founded the Grove Shakespeare Festival (GSF, the Grove) in 1979 and served as its artistic director until 1991. After producing 110 productions in thirteen seasons and directing 36 shows, Bradac stepped down as artistic director. Around this time, he became a theater professor at Chapman University. From 1991 to 2003, he established Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) at Chapman University as a summer-only program with professional staff and student employees.
Bradac became an associate professor at Chapman by 1997 and later became the chair of the Theatre and Dance Department. One of his career highlights was spending the summer of 2002 working with students to adapt Shakespeare’s narrative poem, "Venus and Adonis," for the stage. He later presented this adaptation with the Prague Shakespeare Company at the 2012 Prague Fringe Festival. Bradac retired from Chapman University as Professor Emeritus in 2023.
Bradac returned to the Festival Amphitheatre in 2004 to continue SOC in Garden Grove. He served as its producing artistic director until stepping down in 2013. John Walcutt was the artistic director from 2013 until February 2020, when he announced the end of SOC.
Bradac has been involved with education outreach through Orange County's "Imagination Celebration" for a younger and ethnically diverse population and the "Shakespeare for a New Generation" program for Garden Grove Unified School District students. He is also a founding member and former director of the Shakespeare Theatre Association and he directs the Henry Kemp-Blair High School Shakespeare Festival annually hosted by Chapman’s Department of Theatre.
His acting roles have included Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, the title role in King Lear, and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Bradac is a former member of Actors' Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild, as well as a member of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
Grove Shakespeare Festival to Shakespeare Orange County Timeline
- 1979 – Thomas Bradac founds the Grove Shakespeare Festival (GSF, the Grove)
- 1979 – The Grove launches the season at the GEM, a newly refurbished 172-seat proscenium theater, with a production of Romeo and Juliet
- 1980 – Anni Long and Ron Boussum perform as GSF’s first Equity Guest Artists (Actors' Equity Association, AEA) for the GSF
- 1980 – The GEM premieres Ray Bradbury’s short story as the play, The Cold Wind and the Warm
- 1981 – Garden Grove provides $440,000 from California Park Bond fees for a lighting system and stadium seating at the 540-seat outdoor amphitheater opened and referred to as the Festival Amphitheatre
- 1986 – GEM Theatre enters into a newly developed Small Professional Theatre (SPT) contract and the Festival Amphitheatre operates with a Letter of Agreement with the AEA
- 1986 – The GSF is recognized as Orange County’s second AEA professional theater company
- 1988-1989 – The City of Garden Grove cuts public funding for the Festival
- 1990 – Special fundraising event features actress and Bradac's former student Kelly McGillis
- 1991 – Differences of philosophy regarding the expansion and management of the theater lead to Bradac’s resignation at the Grove and founding of Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) at Chapman University's Waltmar Theatre
- 1991-1992 – Bradac becomes a theater professor at Chapman University
- 1992 – SOC launches as a summer theater with students working alongside professionals
- 1993 – Chapman University President, Dr. James Doti, provides $9,000 for students workers through the 2007 season
- 1993 – Bradac creates "A Shakespearean Christmas" fundraising event
- 1998 – Bradac returns as an actor in The Merry Wives of Windsor as Falstaff
- 2002 – Bradac adapts "Venus and Adonis" for the stage and a copy of the script adaptation is housed in the performance collection at the Shakespeare Internet Editions, University of Victoria, British Columbia
- 2004 – SOC moves from Chapman University and returns to the Festival Amphitheatre
- 2005 – Arts Orange County recognizes SOC as an "Outstanding Arts Organization" at a ceremony in Newport Beach
- 2005-2007 – Bradac organizes the “Shakespeare for a New Generation" program for students in the Garden Grove Unified School District
- 2008 – One More Productions, the organization managing the GEM Theatre, completes a $150,000 building restoration and renovation to make it ADA compliant with a new state-of-the-art sound system, lighting system, stage, curtains, and theater seats
- 2012 – SOC travels to Prague, Czech Republic to perform Venus and Adonis with Prague Shakespeare Company at the Prague Fringe Festival
- 2013 – Bradac retires as producing artistic director and announces actor John Walcutt as his successor
- 2017 – LFA business group receives a 10-year ownership of Garden Grove's Festival Amphitheatre, renovates the venue and rebrands it as a concert venue called Garden Amp
- 2019 – SOC produces a summer program at Santa Ana College after ending its partnership with the Festival Amphitheater
- February 2020 – Producing artistic director John Walcutt announces the end of Shakespeare Orange County and promotes supporting the New Swan Shakespeare Festival at University of California, Irvine
- Bradac retires Chapman University as Professor Emeritus in 2023.
5.3 Linear Feet (11 containers total (9 document boxes, 2 custom boxes), and 1 oversized folder)
Language of Materials
This collection contains photographic materials, programs, publicity records, documents, periodicals, newspaper clippings, and personal memorabilia of Thomas F. Bradac regarding his involvement with the Grove Shakespeare Festival and GEM Theatre (1979-1991), Shakespeare Orange County at Chapman University (1991-2003), Shakespeare Orange County in Garden Grove (2004-2013), and other theatrical pursuits.
This collection is arranged into four series by date and material type:
- Series 1, Grove Shakespeare Festival, 1979-1991
- ----Subseries 1, Photographic material, 1980-1990
- ----Subseries 2, Programs, publicity records and documents, 1979-1991
- ----Subseries 3, Newspaper clippings and periodicals, 1979-1991
- Series 2, Shakespeare Orange County (Chapman University), 1991-2003
- ----Subseries 1, Photographic material, 1992-2003
- ----Subseries 2, Programs, publicity records and documents, 1991-2003
- ----Subseries 3, Newspaper clippings and periodicals, 1991-2003
- Series 3, Shakespeare Orange County (Garden Grove), 2004-2013
- ----Subseries 1, Photographic material
- ----Subseries 2, Programs, publicity records and documents
- ----Subseries 3, Newspaper clippings and periodicals
- Series 4, Personal belongings, 1948, 1980
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Thomas F. Bradac in 2018, January 2020, September 2021 and March 2022. Thomas F. Bradac is Professor Emeritus of Directing and Acting Shakespeare in the Department of Theatre in the College of Performing Arts at Chapman University.
Herman, Jan. "Grove Shakespeare Festival Names Artistic Director." March 24, 1992. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-03-24-ca-4460-story.html.
One More Productions, The GEM Theatre. "Our Story." Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.thegemoc.com/about.
Processed by Jacqueline Devereaux and Annie Tang in March 2020 and Norm Lee in August 2021. Biographical and timeline notes written by Devereaux and Lee. Last updated by Victoria Perez as of February 2023.
Files were left predominantly in Bradac's original organization, with exceptions for preservation purposes.
Per information from Thomas Bradac, although sometimes referred to as The Garden Grove Shakespeare Festival, the actual name of this organization is The Grove Shakespeare Festival. Researchers should also follow this example regarding instances referring to the Grove Theatre Company.
Similarly, one may find Orange County Shakespeare being used in lieu of Shakespeare Orange County. Also, per Thomas Bradac, Shakespeare Orange County is the organization's legal name, and it should be used as such.
This finding aid utilizes the American spelling of "theater," with the exception of proper nouns that use the British spelling of "theatre."
- Finding Aid for the Thomas Bradac theater papers
- Jacqueline Devereaux, Annie Tang, Norman Lee, Victoria Perez
- 04/08/2020. Last updated: 02/24/2023.
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