The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Terese Hayden

Terese Hayden

Founder of Equity Library Theatre and Player’s Guide, Teacher at Circle in the Square
Born on Friday, February 25, 1921

Interviewed on: Monday, August 4, 2014
Location: Her Home
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #7
"I wanted it! I thought that theater would work! I didn’t have a husband that would buy it for me."
Terese Hayden Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 42 seconds
Terese Hayden Interview
Video Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Terese Hayden is an Off-Broadway director, producer, founder, and actress. She worked with the Stage Door Canteen and the Festival Theatre, created the Young People’s Repertory Theatre, and helped to found the Equity Library Theatre. The Equity Library Theatre was dedicated to showcasing unemployed Equity actors in classic/modern plays and musicals and to providing free theatre to New Yorkers. In the 1940s, the company staged its productions in the city’s public libraries. In 1949, it temporarily moved to the Lenox Hill Playhouse. Hayden’s acting credits with the company include: MEASURE FOR MEASURE (1946), CANDIDA (1947), and THE MILLIONAIRES (1948). She also directed and produced the following Off-Broadway productions: MAYA (1953), THE SCARECROW (1953), THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL (1953), THE LITTLE CLAYCART (1953), THE SECRET CONCUBINE (1960), FIVE EVENINGS (1963), ANTIGONE (1967), and OWNERS (1973). In 1944, Hayden created a publication called “The Players’ Guide.” The book published photographs, acting credits, and contact information for the city’s theatre performers. It allowed theatre/film directors to find local talent in New York City. The guide ran for 52 years, ceasing publication in 1996.

In addition to Off-Broadway shows, Hayden worked on Broadway productions. She was the assistant stage manager and played the role of Tessie in Joan of Lorraine (1946). In 1950, she produced The Lady from the Sea and Borned in Texas. Her first combined producer-director credit was when she developed Dinosaur Wharf in 1951. Then, in 1955, she was the assistant director of Inherit the Wind, after bringing it to the attention of producer and director Herman Shumlin. After close to 40 years, she retired from teaching acting at Circle in the Square Theatre School. She is currently a member of the Actors Studio.

Mentioned in Interview

Sam Wanamaker, John Houseman, Orson Welles, Martha Graham, Louise Reiner, Philip Loeb, Clifford Odets, Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, Bill de Lys, Max Eisen, Cheryl Crawford, Lotte Lenya, Hume Cronyn, Kurt Dempster, Equity Library Theatre, Festival Theatre, Young People’s Repertory Theatre, Player’s Guide, Circle in the Square, The Actors Studio, Federal Theatre Project, United Theatrical War Committee, Stage Door Canteen, Ensemble Studio Theater