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September 30, 2002

AEA Chicago's Lonergan Library Doubles in Size With Donation from Actor/Director/Producer Sidney Eden

"Invaluable Resource" for Chicago Actors

4000 Volumes added to Ray Lonergan Memorial Library

The Ray Lonergan Memorial Library in Chicago has received an "extraordinary" donation of over 4000 volumes from actor/director/playwright and producer Sidney Eden. The gift was reported by Iris Lieberman and Joe Bowan, members of Chicago's Lonergan Library Committee, and Kathryn V. Lamkey, Equity's Central Regional Director.

The Memorial Library was founded in 1986, following the death of the great character actor, teacher and life-long Equity member, Ray Lonergan. His family donated the Chicago actor's extensive personal collection of books, anthologies, history, and scripts (including Fireside Theatre selections), to form the core of a free lending library for the use of Equity members. A committee was subsequently formed by his friends and colleagues to catalog the collection, and solicit financial support to get the library off the ground. According to Lieberman, the Library has helped hundreds of actors over the years, who have access to materials which are not found in any other Chicago library or collection.

Most recently, a remarkable donation, which will double the size of the collection, came from Sidney Eden, a New York actor, director and producer who lived and worked in Chicago

Eden's extensive collection includes several first editions, biographies and other rare material, which will be available for reference-use only. For example, there is a complete collection of all of the writings of George Jean Nathan, the famous New York theatre critic; a complete 10-volume collection of "The 100 Lost American Plays" (Indiana University); 250 cassettes of recorded plays, including every Shakespeare drama; and various books and publications about design, production, and criticism. There are also nearly 2000 scripts as well as sheet music going back as far as the 1900's.

Camilla Hawk, a friend of Eden's who is helping the committee, praised his "generosity," adding that "Sidney has always felt that the actors should come first. This is a true gift to all Chicago actors."

Eden, who is originally from Chicago, but now resides in Manhattan Plaza on Manhattan's West Side, has had a distinguished and multi-faceted career spanning five decades. As an actor, he appeared on and Off-Broadway in ARE YOU NOW, OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN? and created the role of Leonard Poetry in Lenny Barry's SITCOM at the St. Nicholas Theatre Company. He has directed over 50 stock and regional theatre productions including GUYS AND DOLLS, starring Alan Alda and HIGH BUTTON SHOES, with Larry Parks and Betty Garrett, as well as productions at the Goodman Theatre, the Cleveland Playhouse and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is particularly proud of his Tony-nominated production of Eugene O'Neill's HUGHIE, starring Ben Gazzara, which opened in Chicago at the First Chicago Center, and came to Broadway in 1973. He also produced and presented tours of WHEN YOU COMIN' BACK, RED RYDER? starring Mark Medoff, and A RAISIN IN THE SUN, starring Claudia McNeil, Raymond St. Jacques, Gloria Foster, Gail Fisher and Al Freeman, Jr. Eden studied with Jose Ferrer, Jose Quintero and John Cassavettes.

Eden has written several plays and has also written for the VILLAGE VOICE. He covered the theatre for "Broadway Magazine" on NBC TV's "Tempo," and is in much demand as an acting coach and teacher with his course, "Acting for Non-Actors." Realizing one of his life-long dreams, Sidney recently compiled and recorded his first CD, "Then and Now," a collection of jazz vocals featuring Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Jimmy Raney, Joe Albany, Richard Davis and Mel Lewis. For more information, visit www.sideden.com.

Lieberman notes that with the Eden donation, Chicago AEA now has one of the largest collections of theatre books in the Windy City, with many periodicals and original manuscripts. Items may be borrowed and returned without charge and scripts may be used for rehearsals or auditions. The catalogue is on computer which can be accessed in the office, for easy reference and title searches. Reminder: the new Chicago AEA office is at 125 South Clark Street in the South Loop.

The Chicago Lonergan Library Committee is currently looking for volunteers and donations (which are tax deductible through the Actors' Fund) to maintain, repair, update and catalogue the collection. Checks may be made payable to the "Ray Lonergan Memorial Library" c/o Actors' Equity, 125 South Clark Street, Chicago, IL, 60603. For further information, contact, Elizabeth Reyes at 312-641-0393.

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