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Carpenter Manuscript Collection

Identifier: MSS 013

Scope and Contents

The Carpenter Collection contains materials related to Betsy Carpenter’s appreciation for the performing arts and involvement in new play development. The bulk of the materials are associated with Betsy Carpenter’s career devotion to new play development. As an Emerson faculty member, director of the Clauder Competition and co-founder of Theatrics!, Carpenter received a number of new plays to be considered for production development. The collection also includes work created by and related to David Mamet, whom Betsy developed a working relationship with when the two met at Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Within the collection are plays, screenplays an essay, and speech written by David Mamet, along with a few pictures and articles written about the artist and his productions. Memorabilia such as playbills and programs are present in the collection. The bulk relate to theatrical plays in Massachusetts and New York. When possible, memorabilia related to plays within this collection were paired together.


  • 1942 - 2004


Language of Materials

Records in English.

Biographical / Historical

Betsy Carpenter taught in the Department of Performing Arts and then in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College. Carpenter was born Mary Elizabeth van der Cross in Bennington, Vermont on December 6, 1953. Betsy grew up in Hoosick Falls and Scotia, New York. In 1977, she graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York with a classical studies degree. Carpenter was the first artistic director of Emerson Stage’s New Play Festival which is now called Emerson Stage NewFest New Works Festival. As an adjunct faculty member she taught graduate playwriting and literature programs at Emerson for 15 years. Later in her life she started to use a different medium of art expression. She was a fiber artist. She also served as the web master for Harvard University. She passed away after a timely battle with cancer on December 11, 2006.

Betsy was devoted to the development of new plays and exclusively sought to support first productions and developmental readings at major theaters. Her participation, direction, and creation of organizations demonstrate her support for new work. In 1984 she won the Governor Award for Artistic Excellence for founding the Renegade Theater in Hoboken, NJ. The Renegade Theater Company is a not-for profit cultural organization that serves as a laboratory for developing new works. She co-founded Theatrics! with Amy Merill which was a nonprofit theater organization that presented developmental readings, produced plays, and offered workshops. As director of the Clauder Competition for over 10 years, Betsy received, reviewed, and provided feedback for a number of play submissions by New England playwrights. The competition awards include full production of a play that has not been professional produced and a cash prize. Winners of the competition are included in the collection. In the Boston area, Betsy has directed projects for Emerson College, Theatrics!, New Voices, The Women in Theatre Festival, Boston Theater Marathon, and Coyote Theatre.

Before Emerson, Carpenter was the assistant artistic director and literary manager at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. While there she made her directorial debut and met Goodman’s artistic director, David Mamet who recently started his own theater company. Carpenter and Mamet remained and contact as evidenced by her assistance with a number of Mamet’s productions in varying capacities. She acted in Sexual Perversity in Chicago, managed The Duck Variations, assistant directed The Woods, and directed the world premiere of Dodge.


7.5 linear feet; 6 boxes


The collection is arranged in three series. Series 1 and 2 are arranged alphabetically by playwright last name, and arranged by year within each title. Series 3 is arranged alphabetically by state, then by city and then theater name alphabetically.

Series 1: Manuscripts

Series 2: Mamet Materials

Subseries A: Related Materials

Subseries B: Plays and Screenplays

Series 3: Play Memorabilia

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to Emerson College in 2006 by Betsy Carpenter’s husband David Sparr. The collection was accepted on behalf of the college archives by Melia Bensussen.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Micha Broadnax; last updated July 25, 2014

Carpenter Manuscript Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Emerson College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Walker Building, Room 223
120 Boylston Street
Boston Massachusetts 02116 United States
(617) 824-8301