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University of Albuquerque Theatre Dept. Records

Identifier: MSS-508-BC

Scope and Content

The collection is comprised of theatre department files with added donations by faculty members Jim Morley, Kip Allen, and Justine (Sally) Tate Opel, and numerous alumni of the theatre program. Series I (boxes 1-7) consists of Performance and Production Materials: production files (boxes 1-3), scripts (box 4), playbills, posters, and programs (boxes 5-6), and materials related to technical theatre (box 7). Series II consists of Academic Materials: curriculum (box 8), and faculty materials of Jim Morley (box 9) and Kip Allen (box 10). Additions to the collection comprise Series III (boxes 11 and 12). Box 12 contains the original transcription and drafts of Jim Morley's oral history and the letters from Morley's colleagues, students, and friends that were published in WE DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE! A History of the University of Albuquerque Theatre Department.

**Production materials are cross-referenced (see also: sa) according to box-folder number (Box #-[Folder] #) and/or location in photoarchives (photo archives). For example: Box 1 Folder 3: After the Rain (1970). See also Box 6-1, photo archives.


  • 1942-1991

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Background Information

The University of Albuquerque The history of the University of Albuquerque spans 66 years from 1920 to 1986. First known as the St. Francis Summer College for teaching sisters, the institution was affiliated in 1939 with the Catholic University of America and changed its name to Catholic Teachers College of New Mexico. By 1952, after a period of building and growth, it became a liberal arts college known as the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande. From 1966 to 1986, the institution gained a new cosmopolitan image as the University of Albuquerque.

This latter period was one of numerous presidential resignations and hirings but one noted for the addition of the Fine Arts Learning Center to the West Mesa skyline and home to legendary theater in New Mexico.

The University of Albuquerque Theatre Department The University's Theatre Department, conceived when the institution was known as the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande, was directed by Jim Morley from 1957 until his retirement in 1984. (The University itself closed in 1986.)

Productions were first staged in the boiler room and later in the gymnasium at the College of St. Joseph. By 1958, after Morley's arrival, the theatre had evolved to a quonset-type building with a 40-foot front stage and a rear stage with an upper level suitable for classic drama. It was known as the "Tin Hut." With the building of the Fine Arts Learning Center in 1972, the Department moved into new facilities, a multipurpose structure with two auditorium areas, a drama theater, and a music-lecture hall.

The history of the University of Albuquerque can be compared to the history of a boom town: the sweet and secret discovery, the growth, the building, the mining, the overmining, and the consequent ghost town remains when the vein was spent or abandoned. Her history spans the years 1904, when she was known as the St. Francis Summer School for nuns to 1986, when we saw her as a cosmopolitan college (the University of Albuquerque) making every effort to stay above the flood waters of lost and found leadership and huge indebtedness. Her name-changes listed below are like strata of a mother lode:

  • St. Francis Summer School, Pena Blanca, 1904-1921; (used as a mission school between Albuquerque and Santa Fe).
  • St. Francis Summer College, Albuquerque, 1921-1946; affiliated with Catholic University of America, 1939; (used the St. Anthony Home for Boys on Indian School Road).
  • Catholic Teachers College of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1947-1949; (used the Lourdes Seminary, five miles south of Albuquerque on South Second Street).
  • St. Joseph College, Albuquerque, 1949-1957; continued affiliation with Catholic University of America, 1956-1961. (new building on the West Mesa??)
  • College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande, Albuquerque, 1957-1966; (an era of building and growth to grounds and curricula).
  • University of Albuquerque, 1966 to its dissolution in 1986 (an era of numerous presidential resignations and hirings but one noted for the addition of the Fine Arts Learning Center to the West Mesa skyline and home to legendary theater in New Mexico).

This sweet and secret discovery was exemplified by a dedicatory speech of the College of St. Joseph in 1952: "The basic commodity of education is truth....In these classrooms in their glorious setting of mountain and plain will come in years to be hundred(s) of young men and women eager for the unadulterated truth." And so she grew and built and mined "the truth" until she, in quiet agony in 1986, ended her search for it.

One very important part of the University of Albuquerque's history, conceived during her flowering and weathering the storms until her final closing, was the Theater Department under the direction of Jim Morley.

Jim Morley: Born and raised in Wisconsin, Morley enrolled at UNM after World War II. He had heard that the university offered an excellent anthropology program, but after realizing it was really the historical drama of past civilizations he sought, Morley embarked on a career in theatre. After earning his bachelor's degree (BFA) at UNM in 1949, Morley completed a master's degree (MA) at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After teaching for one year at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and after a short acting stint in New York, he returned to Albuquerque. He took a job at KGGM-TV as a talk show host and puppeteer for a show called "The Treasure Chest." In 1955 the Sisters of St. Francis hired him to teach English at the U of A. He decided the university needed a theatre department as well. The history of the now legendary Theatre Department mirrored the boom town-like history of the University itself.

A large room in a heating plant, a stage, tiered platforms for folding chairs to rest on, dressing rooms, lighting and sound control panels...The now legendary Theater Department built its foundation on these, one school term in 1953. (1955?)

A quonset-type building, a 40-foot front stage, and rear stage with an upper level suitable for classic drama...So from humble "boiler room" beginnings did the theater evolve to this in 1958.

A multipurpose facility, two auditorium areas, a drama theater, and a music-lecture hall...14 years of "Tin Hut" theater was rewarded in 1972 with a building that is a landmark on the West Mesa.

Morley taught phonetics, voice and diction, directing, acting, theatre history, and film criticism, and directed U of A theater productions for almost 30 years, while serving as friend and mentor to countless students who studied theatre with him. He survived the adminstrative changes through the years, while his theatre progressed from its humble beginnings in the gymnasium to a tin quonset hut he built almost single-handedly, to the intimate Stage One in U of A's Fine Arts Center.

Morley's mission in theatre was to portray the measure and dignity of man. He chose as an emblem for this mission Leonardo da Vinci's famous illustration, "Human Figure in a Circle," which defines the proportions of a man with limbs outstretched to the edges of a circle. It greeted students and theatre goers on an outside wall of the Fine Arts Center and it appeared as part of a logo on the theatre stationery.

As a director, Morley courted controversy. He produced a play with what is recognized as Albuquerque's first nude scene, and he transformed Gertrude Stein's play, "Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights," into an original rock musical.

One of Morley's special loves in theatre was ritual and ceremony, and one of his directing trademarks was his Fellini-like ability to block action on stage so that, at any given moment, all movement was frozen, and the audience saw a still scene of impeccable composition.

Catholic sisters ran the U of A during most of Morley's tenure, and they gave him complete artistic freedom. "When I started out, my nuns told me all they required from and my plays was the truth, and that's what I gave them.

The University of Albuquerque Theater Collection reflects this sweet and secret discovery of truth in education. Future explorers of Camelots like the University of Albuquerque will agree with Shakespeare when he said, "The play's the thing!"


14 boxes (12.2 cu. ft.)

Related Archival Material

University of Albuquerque Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Phyllis Flanders Dorset Summerhouse Theatre Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • "His Personality, Enthusiasm Fill U of A's Drama Dept.," Albuquerque Journal, October 18, 1981.
  • "Master at the U of A," UNM Alumnus, Vol. 55, No. 6 (March 1983).
  • "Morley Retiring After 27-Year Career," The Observer, December 5, 1984.
  • Thom, Marsha. "The Play's His Thing." Albuquerque Living , December 1984.


**Items donated by Jim Morley (miscellaneous news articles and photographs) added to Box 9. Portfolio donated by Kip Allen comprises Box 10.

Chronological Listing of Plays Produced at the College of St. Joseph/University of Albuquerque.

1953 Everyman
1953 The Flowering Staff
1954 The Girl in the Rain
A Quartet of Plays:
A Proud Sorrow
Riders to the Sea
Rising of the Moon
Spreading the News
1955 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
1957 Thieves Carnival
1958 The Glass Menagerie
The Juggler (Christmas I) (new script)
1959 The Boyfriend
The Cave Dwellers
1960 Don Juan in Hell
The Glorious Adventures of Don Quixote
1961 Euripides' Medea
The Maids
1962 Dinny and the Witches
Don Juan in Hell
The Little Foxes
1963 Ladies in Retirement
One Act #l (A Bill of One Acts): Sorry, Wrong Number, The Finger of God, The Turn of the Century
One Act #2: Hello, Out There, The Sandbox, The Red Velvet Coat
One Act #4 (Three Facets of the Theatre): The Long Goodbye, Aria da Capo, The Conquest of Everest
1964 The Lark
The Tempest
Under Milk Wood
1965 I Remember Mama
John Brown's Body
The Skin of Our Teeth
Thor, With Angels
1966 J.B.
Little Women
Waiting for Godot
1967 A Liturgical Happening (new script)
Mr. Pim Passes By
Spoon River Anthology
The World of Carl Sandburg
1968 The Collected Works of Claudia (new script)
1969 Henry IV
The House of Bernarda Alba
M X 3: Noah's Floode, Everyman, Second Shepherd's Play
No Exit
The Rimers of Eldritch
The Royal Hunt of the Sun
1970 After the Rain
Collision Course
1971 Fire
Rosencrantz and Guidenstern Are Dead
1972 The Bald Soprano
The Laundry
1973 Aaron Slick From Punkin Crick (summer stock)
The Cherry Orchard
The Curious Savage (summer stock)
Dark of the Moon
Day of Resurrection (summer stock)
The Insect Comedy
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (summer stock)
1974 The Cube and Rose Parade (puppet entertainment for adults)
The Fantastiks
The Innocents
Little Murders
The Serpent
Tiny Alice
Our Town
1975 The Bacchae
Black Comedy
Shelley, or The Idealist
Story Theater
1976 Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights (musical)
The Good Doctor
Two Evenings of Strindberg
1977 The Emperor Jones
Puppet Theatre
L'Histoire du Soldat
Peter and the Wolf
1978 Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (new script)
Day of Resurrection (new script)
Der Mond (opera with puppets)
Sweeney Todd the Barber
1979 Anna K.
Elizabeth I
Joe Egg Ladies in Retirement
Oedipus Rex (puppet and readers' theatre)
The Puppet Experiment
Three In One (student productions): Rats, A Game, Theater of the Soul
1980 A Child's Christmas in Wales
The Threepenny Opera (musical)
White Deer
1981 Cradle Song
Elephant Man
Ex Miss Copper Queen On a Set of Pills (student production)
For Colored Girls...
Josephine: The Mouse Singer
Line (student production)
Moby Dick Rehearsed
Motley Tales
The Sausage Maker's Interlude (student production)
Time is a Thief (student production)
1982 Antigone
1983 The Alligator Man
Beckett X 3: Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II, End Game
The Dumbwaiter
Hello Out There
Infancy (student production)
Life in Theatre
The Northern Cross (student production)
1984 Beyond Therapy
Boot Hill Rosaries
El Grande de Coca Cola
Gorey Stories
1985 Best Friend
People Are Living There
You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown


Adobe Theatre - Corrales, New Mexico, 1962-1965

  1. Of Mice and Men
  2. The Lady's Not for Burning
  3. Man in the Dog Suit
  4. Blood Wedding
  5. Ghost Sonata
  6. Thurber Carnivalaa,
  7. Lion in Winter

Kaleidoscope Players - Raton, New Mexico, 1968-1972

  1. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (musical)
  2. Indians
  3. I Do, I Do (musical)
  4. The Impossible Years
  5. Thieves Carnival
  6. The Fantasticks (musical)
  1. Madrid Players

University of Albuquerque - Albuquerque, New Mexico-1973

  1. Aaron Slick from Punkin' Crick
  1. Curious Savage
  2. Oh Dad, Poor Dad...
  3. Day of Resurrection

Adobe Theatre - Corrales, New Mexico, 1980-1983

  1. Of Mice and Men, 1980
  2. Seamarks, 1983
Finding Aid of the University of Albuquerque Theatre Dept. Records, 1942-1991
Processed by Staff
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Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 508 BC::University of Albuquerque Theatre Dept. Records)//EN" "nmu1mss508bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131