Horizons Theater Company records
Scope and Contents
The Horizons Theater Company Records collection contains board meeting minutes, staff contracts, subscriber lists, grant letters, correspondence, scripts, photographs, photographic slides, posters, press releases, advertisements, newspaper clippings, newsletters, programs, recorded plays, ledgers, annual financial reports, budgets, stage illustrations and diagrams, and production outlines. The material dates from circa 1972–2015, with the bulk of materials dating from 1980–1989.
- Creation: 1972-2015
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1980-1989
- Jacobson, Leslie (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. However, the materials found in Boxes 50 and 51 are restricted because they may contain personal or financial information. Please contact Special Collection staff for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
To the extent that she owns copyright, the donor has licensed his/her materials to be used according to the terms of the [CC BY-NC 4.0] license. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For activities that the researcher determines fall under fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For re-use of materials in the collection not created by the donor, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights, determining if the intended re-use falls under fair use, and obtaining approval from the copyright holder if the intended use does not fall under fair use. Researchers do not need anything further from The George Washington University Special Collections Research Center. Please contact Special Collections if the copyright status of the materials you wish to reuse is unclear. Staff will provide additional information.
Biographical / Historical
One of the nation’s oldest and longest running women’s theater companies, Horizons: Theater from a Woman’s Perspective was founded in 1977 as Pro Femina Theater (PFT) by Leslie Jacobson, and remained in operation until 2007. Jacobson and other Pro Femina contributors had also been members of the Washington Area Feminist Theater (WAFT), which operated from 1972-1977.
The members of PFT crafted original plays through collaboration and improvisation, exploring diverse themes including motherhood, modern romantic relationships, traditional gender roles, and aging. In 1980, the members of PFT traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to participate in the International Festival of Women Artists and in 1981, performed in the Women’s One World Festival in New York City. Within the local community, PFT hosted summer acting workshops for Washington high school students and was commissioned by the Project for Equal Education Rights (PEER) to present a play about gender disparities in mathematics education. PFT staged plays in a variety of Washington venues, including the YWCA, the New Playwrights Theater, and the Studio Theater. In 1982, PFT changed its name to Horizons: Theater from a Woman’s Perspective.
From 1983-1988, Horizons was based at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, DC. During their residency at Grace, the theater’s productions included Signs of Life (1984), Top Girls (1985), for which Horizons received 3 Helen Hayes nominations, Miss Lulu Bett (1985), Johnny Bull (1986), Marathon ’33 (1987), and Eleemosynary (1988). In 1989, a plan to relocate to a permanent space in DC’s 14th Street NW Theater corridor fell through. Left without a home location, Horizons temporarily relocated to theaters across the region, including Montgomery College’s Black Box Theater in Silver Spring, MD, and the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater and Gunston Arts Center, both in Arlington, VA. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, Horizons also staged plays on the campus of George Washington University.
Throughout its years in operation, Horizons premiered more than 60 original plays by national and international female playwrights and performed throughout the DC region, including at the National Archives and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The theater also promoted community-based arts outreach, hosting playwriting and acting workshops for adults and staged readings. In May 1987, Horizons was honored with the annual Award for Excellence and Leadership in Theater by Women by the Committee for Women of the Dramatists Guild of America. That same year, Horizons performed the musical “A…My Name Is Alice,” the theater’s most successful production and for which Horizons was honored with the 1988 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Musical. In total, Horizons productions, crew members, and actors received 22 Helen Hayes Award nominations and won 4 awards, including the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play in 1995 for playwright Chris White’s Rhythms. Horizons also created the Bravo/a Award, an annual recognition of noted Washington arts contributors that was presented from 1984-1990. Past winners included arts philanthropist Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Arena Stage co-founder Zelda Fichandler, and character actor and Horizons patron Robert Prosky.
Horizons Founder Leslie Jacobson has served as a writer, producer, director, and theater educator for more than 40 years. Before founding the Pro Femina Theater in 1977, she was a member of the Washington Area Feminist Theater, joining in 1974. Jacobson served as Artistic Director for the theater’s entire tenure, also acting in and directing numerous Horizons productions. She has been nominated three times for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director of a Resident Production and was President of the League of Washington Theatres from 1985-1986. Jacobson was as a Professor of Theater at George Washington University (GW) from 1976 until her retirement in 2019. She served as Chair of the GW Department of Theater and Dance from 1995-2008. Additionally, she was Director of Graduate Studies for the Shakespeare Theater Company Academy for Classical Acting, based at GW. Professor Jacobson is a 2008 Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship recipient and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Theater from Northwestern University and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Boston University.
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Language of Materials
Horizons: Theater from a Woman’s Perspective was an award-winning theater that operated in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area from 1977-2007. This collection contains material relating to the operations of Horizons, as well as its previous iteration, the Pro Femina Theater. The material dates from circa 1972–2015, with the bulk of materials dating from 1980–1989.
The records are organized into 6 series: Administrative materials, Correspondence, Scripts, Promotional materials, Financial documents and Productions and stage notes.
Researchers looking for a specific Pro Femina/Horizons Theatre production should consider reviewing folders containing miscellaneous materials if there is no dedicated folder(s). Some productions were not individually organized--either by the creators or during processing.
Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Leslie Jacobson, 2018 [2018.004] and 2019 [2019.063].
- Guide to the Horizons Theater Company records, 1972-2015
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English