Genesius Guild records


MSS 366
19.25 linear feet (44 boxes, plus 8 oversized)

Name of Creator(s):

Don Wooten




There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. Don Wooten retains any copyright he may possess to the published newspaper columns.

Access points:

Community theater.
Greek drama.
Parks--Illinois--Rock Island.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Dramatic Production.
Summer theater.
Theater--Illinois--Rock Island.
Theater, Municipal.
Theater, Open-air.

Finding aid prepared by:

Anna Tunnicliff, 2013. Updated by Samantha Crisp, June 2015.


Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Custodial History
Historical Note
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Related Materials
Container List


Don Wooten, the founder of the Genesius Guild, assembled these records at his home over a number of years. Anna Tunnicliff created the arrangement scheme and organized the materials prior to their transfer to Augustana College Special Collections in 2013. Financial records were not included in the 2013 accession. 

The Genesius Guild is an outdoor, community theatre specializing in classical plays. In 1956, Don Wooten founded the Genesius Guild to participate in the Rock Island Playground Recreation-Park Board’s annual Marshall Dramatic Contest. In the summer of 1957, the Park Board invited the Genesius Guild to perform outdoors in Rock Island’s Lincoln Park. The success of these performances prompted the Park Board to continue funding the Genesius Guild, a move which allows the group to present their shows free of charge. In the early years, the Genesius Guild toured parks in the Quad Cities area, mounting productions on a stage in a flatbed truck. The truck was retired in 1963, and since then they have performed at the former Denkmann Memorial Pool in Lincoln Park on a stage that is built over the shallow pool each summer.

Genesius Guild produces an average of five shows over a season that runs from early June to mid-August. Each season regularly features one ancient Greek tragedy performed in mask, one ancient Greek comedy as adapted by Don Wooten for modern audiences, and two works of William Shakespeare. They occasionally perform the religious dramas of Henri Gheon or works of George Bernard Shaw. The Guild has sometimes partnered with other local groups such as Opera@Augustana and Ballet Quad Cities to add English language operas and dance to the repertoire. Actors are all volunteers and are usually high-school age or above. Aside from regular summer seasons, the Genesius Guild has staged several winter shows and fundraisers around the Quad City area. Over their first 56 years they have briefly staged experimental theatre in Augustana College’s Larson Hall, operated a children’s theatre from 1963-1979, performed several reader’s theatres, and hosted seminars on Shakespeare’s plays.  



The Genesius Guild records date from 1956-2012 and measure 19.25 linear feet. These records offer a rare glimpse into a thriving example of amateur community theatre. The records contain three series: Organizational, Productions , and Multimedia.

The Organizational (1957-2012 and undated) series contains papers generated by the Genesius Guild through their day-to-day business. It has six subseries. They are: Legal, Board of Directors, Correspondence, Publicity, Buildings, and Membership.

Legal (1982-2012 and undated) contains paperwork on the Guild’s incorporation and not-for-profit status as well as a copy of their 1983 agreement with the Rock Island Park Board for the use of Lincoln Park. The Board of Directors (1996-2006 and undated) subseries includes meeting minutes from the 1990s and documents relating to two board elections. Correspondence (1968-2012 and undated) holds letters generated by the Genesius Guild as well as audience notes received by the Guild. Letters range from those detailing financial and planning decisions, to more personal and informal notes. Publicity (1961-2005 and undated) includes advertisements, newspaper clippings (general; not production reviews), press releases, fundraising brochures, and materials produced for broadcast and the internet. A collection of images for a 1962 television advertisement on local station WQUA and Genesius Guild related articles written by Wooten between 1986-1995 for his local newspaper column “And Another Thing…” are located in this subseries. Buildings (1960-2005 and undated) contains information on the Genesius Guild’s stage and costume and stage houses, and a business plan for a proposed renovation of an indoor theatre (Capri Theater). It also contains photographs of these buildings, and various stages in Lincoln Park. Membership (1957-2003 and undated) includes one book with a cast list for each production in the Genesius Guild’s first fifteen years, written in calligraphy by local artist Bill Hannan. This subseries also contains one longer, but incomplete, list of membership (cast), newspaper clippings regarding some members, and photographs.

Productions (1956-2012 and undated), houses the materials related to the Genesius Guild’s theatrical productions. It consists of eight subseries: General, Auditions, Marshall Dramatic Contests, Project 3, Junior Theater, Community Outreach, Scrapbooks, and Seasons.

General (2001-2005, 2012) includes an index to the Genesius Guild’s productions, by title and year(s) performed. This index will assist researchers in locating materials about specific productions when using scrapbooks and seasons files in the Productions series, as well as in locating material in the Multimedia series. Study guides for the seasons from 2001-2005, which offer descriptions of each show in that season, are also included in this subseries. Auditions (1963-2010, scattered and undated) consists of audition forms from 1963 and various years until 2010 (bulk 1990s-2000s). After 1991, photographs of those auditioning are attached to many of the forms. The forms provide insight into the volunteer nature of the endeavor, with questions about whether people can sew their own costumes, as well previous (if any) acting experience. Audition photographs of individuals and groups from 1968 and unknown years conclude the subseries. Marshall Dramatic Contests (1956-1960) covers the Genesius Guild’s first participation in Rock Island’s Marshall Dramatic Contests in the winters of 1957-1959 in which they won several prizes. This subseries houses programs, score cards, performance evaluations, and newspaper clippings about the Marshall Dramatics Contests. Project 3 (1962 and undated) holds records of the Genesius Guild’s 1962 experimental theater in Augustana College’s Larson Hall. It includes tickets, press releases, and a letter to educators inviting students to attend. Junior Theater (1963-1979) covers the classical children’s theater offered to Rock Island’s children in cooperation with of Rock Island’s Park Board. Included are production reviews, programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings. Community Outreach (1995-2007) reflects the many programs, lectures, and seminars the Genesius Guild offered to the community through libraries, community groups and other venues. Scrapbooks (1961-2012, scattered and undated) includes nine oversize scrapbooks made by Genesius Guild founder Don Wooten. They contain reviews, newspaper clippings, season guides, programs, posters, and notes from audience members. One scrapbook (1961-1999 and undated) measures 25 x 20 inches and contains entire newspaper pages about the Genesius Guild over the years. The series ends with Seasons (1961-2012), which encompasses a variety of formats and materials. Wooten arranged these materials chronologically from 1956-2005 and creator order was maintained, aside from the addition of some production programs and the seasons 2006-2012. The Seasons subseries includes one folder for nearly each of Genesius Guild’s productions. Researchers searching for specific productions are advised to refer to the index (Productions; General) for years in which specific productions were staged. These folders contain materials such as programs, cast lists, set designs, photographs, reviews, and costume renderings. Early costume renderings are comprised of small drawings and accompanying fabric swatches. Some scripts are included in this subseries, especially in the case of the adapted comedies of Aristophanes.

Multimedia (1956-2012 and undated) consists of eight subseries: Albums, Photographs, Audio Reels, Production DVDs, Production Slide CDs, Posters and Designs, Costume and Set Designs, and Miscellaneous Designs.

Albums (1956-1999 and undated) contains 22 photograph albums assembled by Wooten. Original order has been maintained. An index has been created to facilitate access. The albums are loosely arranged by type into Greek tragedies, Greek comedies, Shakespeare’s plays, and operas. Each of these sections is in alphabetical order by title and then in chronological order by production. Photographs (1974-2003 and undated) includes prints and slides of many productions. These are arranged chronologically by season and then alphabetically by play title. The index (Productions; General) may assist researchers in identifying which box of photographs to request. Unidentified photographs end the series. The photographs document the evolution of Genesius Guild’s style of masked Greek tragedy, as well as shows on the travelling stage. Audio Reels (1986 and undated) includes audio tape soundtracks for productions. Production DVDs (1982-2006, scattered) includes film (43 DVDs) of various productions over the years. Production Slides CDs (2006 and undated) contains digitized versions of slide film taken of productions. Posters and Designs (1963-2012, scattered) consists of posters, television advertisements, and drafts. A near-complete poster collection of artwork by local artist Bill Hannan, who created most of the program and poster artwork for the Genesius Guild, is included here. Costume and Set Designs (undated) and Miscellaneous Designs (undated) include costume and set designs, original program artwork by Hannan, and some miscellaneous drawings based on Genesius Guild productions. Of note are two drawings parodying Genesius Guild style Greek tragedies and their rehearsal process.

Addition of 2015 (2000s-2010s) contains two folders of pamphlets, programs, scripts, schedules, and tickets produced by the Genesius Guild.



Most materials are arranged chronologically within each series or subseries. Creator order was maintained for the Seasons subseries of Productions and the Albums subseries in Multimedia. The albums are arranged first by production category, then alphabetically by play title and then chronologically by season. The index housed in Productions; General may assist researchers in locating and identifying materials elsewhere in the collection.



None known




Organizational, 1957-2012 and undated

Legal, 1983-2012 and undated

Board of Directors, 1996-2006 and undated

Elections, 1996-2005

Members, undated

Minutes, 1997-2006

Correspondence, 1968-2012 and undated

General, 1968-2009 and undated

Audience notes, 1977-2012 and undated

Publicity, 1961-2005 and undated

Broadcast, 1962 and undated

Brochures, 1963-2005, scattered, and undated

Clippings, 1961-2002

Columns, 1986-1995

Poster locations, 1971 and undated

Press releases, 1963-1985 and undated

Website, 1999, 2001, and undated

Buildings, 1960-2005 and undated

Capri Theater renovation, 2000-2003 and undated

Costume House, 1999

Stage and Stage House, 1960-2005, scattered, and undated


Photographs, 1957-1970s and undated

Stages, 1957-1970s and undated

Capri Theater, undated

Membership, 1957-2003 and undated

Book, 1957-1971

List, 1957-2000

Clippings, 1965-2003 and undated

Silver Anniversary, 1981

Photographs, undated


Productions, 1956-2012 and undated

General, 2001-2005; 2012

Index, 2012







Auditions, 1963-2010, scattered and undated

Forms, 1963-2110, scattered and undated

Blanks, 2008 and undated









2003 2004






Photographs, 1968 and undated



Marshall Dramatic Contests, 1956-1960





Project 3, 1962 and undated

Junior Theater, 1963-1979

Community Outreach, 1995-2007

Rotary, 1995

Library programs





Greek Fest, 2007

Pastor Project, 2006




OVERSIZE BOX 1 [Formerly BOX 6]

Scrapbooks, 1961-2012, scattered and undated

1961-1999 and undated

OVERSIZE BOX 2 [Formerly BOX 7]

1968 and undated

1997-1998 and undated

2000 and undated

OVERSIZE BOX 3 [Formerly BOX 8]

2001 and undated

2002 and undated

OVERSIZE BOX 4 [Formerly BOX 9]

2003, 2008 and undated

2009-2011 and undated

2010-2012 and undated

BOX 10

Seasons, 1961-2012

1961-1963 (18 folders)

BOX 11

1964-1968 (20 folders)

BOX 12

1969-1973 (25 folders)

BOX 13

1974-1975 (11 folders)

BOX 14

1976 (6 folders)

BOX 15

1976-1980 (22 folders)

BOX 16

1981-1985 (24 folders)

BOX 17

1985-1992 (41 folders)

BOX 18

1993-2003 (54 folders)

BOX 19

2004-2012 (45 folders)

OVERSIZE BOX 5 [Formerly BOX 20]

Multimedia, 1956-2012 and undated

Albums, 1956-1999 and undated

Index (by production, and date)

Album 1

Album 22

BOX 21

Album 2

Album 3

BOX 22

Album 4

Album 6

BOX 23

Album 5

BOX 24

Album 7

Album 8

BOX 25

Album 9

Album 10

BOX 26

Album 11

Album 12

BOX 27

Album 13

BOX 28

Album 14

BOX 29

Album 15

BOX 30

Album 16

BOX 31

Album 17

BOX 32

Album 18

BOX 33

Album 19

BOX 34

Album 20

BOX 35

Album 21

Album 22 [see Box 20]

BOX 36

Photographs, 1958-2003 and undated

1958-1973 (28 folders)

BOX 37

1974-1977 (12 folders)

BOX 38

1977 (4 folders)

BOX 39

1978 (5 folders)

BOX 40

1978 (4 folders)

BOX 41

1978-1979 (6 folders)

BOX 42

1980-1985 (13 folders)

BOX 43

1985-1997 (24 folders)

BOX 44

1997-2000 (13 folders)

BOX 45

2000-2003 (11 folders)

Unidentified productions, 1966-1979 and undated (3 folders)

BOX 46

Audio Reels, 1986 and undated

Peace, 1986

Henry IV, undated

King Lear, undated

Romeo and Juliet, undated

Thunderstorm, undated

BOX 47

Production DVDs, 1982-2006, scattered

1982-2006 (43 DVDs)

BOX 48

Production Slides CDs, 2006 and undated

2006 and undated (23 CDs)

OVERSIZE BOX 6 [Formerly BOX 49]

Posters and Designs, 1963-2012, scattered

1963-1975 (15)

OVERSIZE BOX 7 [Formerly BOX 50]

1976-2012 (31)

OVERSIZE BOX 8 [Formerly BOX 51]

Costume and Set Designs, undated (5)

Miscellaneous Designs, undated (3)

BOX 52

Addition of 2015

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