• IdentificationMidwest MS Sickinger
  • TitleInventory of the Bob Sickinger Papers, 1934-1985, bulk 1963-1969 Midwest.MS.Sickinger
  • PublisherThe Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts
  • RepositoryThe Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts
  • Physical Description1.8 linear feet (3 boxes)
  • Date
    • Bulk, 1963-1969
    • 1934-1985
  • Location1 31 2
  • AbstractPress reviews and photographs of Hull House Theater productions directed by Bob Sickinger, 1963-1969, together with copies of Sickinger's 1963 essay on the state of theater in Chicago and his press release regarding his involuntary departure from Hull House in 1969. Also a few programs, press releases, advertisements, a fan letter, and a thesis on Hull House children's theater programs. As director of Hull House Theater between 1963 and 1969, Sickinger was instrumental in founding Chicago’s Off Loop Theater.
  • OriginationSickinger, Bob, 1926-2013

Gift of Bob Sickinger, 2010.

The Bob Sickinger Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

The Bob Sickinger Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Bob Sickinger Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Eileen Truong, 2014.

American theater director and playwright.

William Robert (Bob) Sickinger was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 7, 1926 to Frank P. Sickinger and Mary Raimondo. After serving in the US Army near the end of the World War II, Sickinger attended Bloomsburg State Teacher College (now Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania) and Temple University where he studied English and speech. In the 1950s, while working as a public-school teacher, he started staging productions around Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, eventually working out of the Circle in the City as well as mounting works at the Cricket Playhouse, Abbey Playhouse and the Philadelphia Civic Theatre. In 1963, the new executive director of the Hull House Association, Paul Jans, convinced Sickinger to move to Chicago to run the Association’s theater program.

Due to his efforts at Hull House Theater, Sickinger is widely considered the father of Chicago’s Off Loop Theater. A staunch believer in the power of the community in theater, Sickinger drew his casts and crews from amateur actors and non-theater people. Sickinger’s debut effort, “Who’ll Save the Plowboy?” was met with critical and popular acclaim. Over the next six years, Sickinger often chose provocative and challenging contemporary plays, including the works of writers like Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Athol Fugard and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka). Amidst the Association’s financial troubles and without Jans’ support, who resigned as director in April 1969, conflicts between Sickinger and the Board escalated; the Board announced Sickinger’s resignation in May 1969. Sickinger left Chicago for New York, where he wrote and directed a few shows Off Broadway which met with limited success.

Married three times, his first two marriages ended in divorce. Sickinger died at his home in Delray Beach, Florida, of congestive heart failure on May 9, 2013.

Reviews, photographs, programs, advertisements, fan letter and press release of Hull House Theater productions, writings by Bob Sickinger, 1940-1985.

Most of the collection consists of press reviews from Chicago area critics and photographs of performances, sets and rehearsals of Hull House Theater productions directed by Bob Sickinger 1963-1969. Some photos depict Bob Sickinger and his then wife Selma. There are a few advertisements, a program booklet, a Master’s Thesis and general clippings about Hull House Theater, script notes for “Caligula,” a fan letter about “Picnic on the Battlefield,” and a tribute video on vhs to Bob Sickinger. A photograph and a program predating Sickinger’s tenure as Hull House Theater director are also included.

Papers arranged alphabetically, with oversized materials at the end.

  • Names
    • Albee, Edward, 1928-
    • Baraka, Amiri, 1934-2014
    • Fugard, Athol
    • Hull House Theatre. (Organization : Chicago, Ill.)
    • Pinter, Harold, 1930-2008
    • Sickinger, Bob, 1926-2013
  • Subject
    • Chicago
    • Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
    • Theater
    • Theater -- 20th century -- Reviews
    • Theater -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th Century – Sources