Skip to main content

Robin Nott papers

Identifier: 018.RN

Scope and Contents

The Robin Nott papers (1965-2015) are a detailed examnination of the inception and development of a Michigan-based public school theater program. The personal writings of Robin Nott shed light on the background and efforts made to initiate a community theater program, while each production file in the Performing Arts Company records detail the structure and requirements necessary to maintain a high school theater production. The collection also contains many notes and evaluations from state theater competitions, shedding light on the expectations and competitive nature of high school theater in Michigan. The Nott papers also show the possibilities for community outreach through theater by documenting the various theater and storytelling programs extending outside the school walls. The collection spans the years from 1965 to 2015, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1987 to 2015, when Nott taught theater at Gull Lake High School in Richland, Michigan.

The Robin Nott papers are divided into two series: Performing Arts Company (PAC) records, and Personal Papers. The PAC records are arranged by individual theater production staged by PAC, dating from the company's inception in 1987 to Nott's retirement in 2015. Each individual production file contains various materials related to that produciton ranging from production materials, photography, state competition evaluations, videography, press clippings, poster art, clothing, individual student achievement awards, and slide photography. Also included in the PAC series are materials related to the Performing Arts Troupe, a group of students trained in the art of storytelling who gave performances to elementary school students in the community.

The Personal Papers series, dating from 1965 to 2015, consist of Nott's academic writings while a student at Western Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University, letters to the editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette, film and slide phototgraphy from productions starring Nott, and scrapbooks of various Nott-related productions. Nott's career as a storyteller and folksinger are also documented in the form of show posters and photography from various educational performances and festivals.


  • Creation: 1965 - 2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1987 - 2014

Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Biographical Note

Born January 6, 1951 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Robin was member of a creative and artistically driven family. His mother Jane Sillaway Nott, was a musician, his father Robert Cleveland Nott was a sketch artist, his uncle Ward Sillaway played trombone in the big bands of Jimmy & Tommy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Glenn Miller, and Fred Waring and was an executive at NBC, and his aunt Emma Louise Lake was a painter. Robin attended Forest Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan graduating in 1969, but because of the lack of a theatre program at FHHS, Nott had never personally experienced drama/theatre prior to college.

While attending college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Nott realized he had a passion for educational theatre, and subsequently received his bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts in 1973, as well as receiving his master of arts in Developmental Drama/Theatre for the Young from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1984. Following graduate school, Nott worked in both private and public schools before being employed with Gull Lake Community Schools in 1987, to build an educational theatre program. While employed by Gull Lake Schools, Nott applied what he had learned at EMU, and created The Performing Arts Company (PAC), an educational and community theatre program. Over the next 30 years, Nott would take PAC from a small high school theatre program to one of statewide prominence, participating annually in state theatre competition, winning state championships in 1996, and tied in 2004. Nott was selected state theatre teacher of the year in 1995 (MIFA), and national theatre teacher of the year in 1999 (AATE).

In addition to his work with PAC, Nott also created “The Story Caravan”, high school students trained in oral tradition, telling tales in area elementary schools. In 2006, Nott created a “Summer Ensemble Theatre Camp” for middle school students at the Sherman Lake YMCA camp, Augusta, Michigan, and as of 2017 was still directing it that program. From 1984 to 1994, he directed plays for young audiences each summer with the Circle Theatre In The Park of Grand Rapids, Michigan and from 1995 to 2001, directed the Western Michigan University touring health education theatre troupe “Great Sexpectations.” Outside of theatre education activities, Nott is an accomplished storyteller and folk musician.

In 2015, Nott retired from Gull Lake High School and PAC, but remained active in the district by continuing to personally present storytelling and guest storytelling artists for the district’s students. In retirement, Nott is actively involved in museum educational programming with the Gilmore Car Museum of Hickory Corners, Michigan, keeping as his mission: “I will listen for and honor your true story, and I will tell you mine.”


30 Linear Feet (6 archive boxes, 8 record center cartons, 1 slide box, 1 oversize box, 5 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Materials in the Robin Nott papers (1965-2015) consist of Nott's time as a student at Western Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University, and document his later life as a teacher of drama and theater at Gull Lake High School in Richland, Michigan. The collection is arranged in two series: Performing Arts Comapny records and Personal Papers. The Performing Arts Company series includes promotional materials, production materials, clothing, original student art, videography, photography, set design, and student writing for each individual production. The Personal papers series contains Mr. Nott's resumes, personal and academic writings, and photography.

Robin Nott papers
Performing Arts Company, Gull Lake High School Theatre records
Matt Jones, Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2017 April 18
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197