Saturday, April 26, 2008

NYU to Demolish the Provincetown Playhouse? How You Can Help

On Sunday, I will be emailing out the following to approximately 1,000 people.

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

The history of the American theater is inextricably linked to the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village.

As I'm sure you've already heard, my alma mater, New York University, proposes to demolish it. (You can click on this link for more information. Back Stage has just published some reporting on this as well -- click here for the story.)

I am deeply ashamed of NYU President John Sexton and his eagerness to plunge a knife into the heart of American theater history. This is a quote from Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:

"Although not protected by city landmark designation and modified several times over the past nine decades, the row of four buildings and the 170-seat theater have iconic cultural significance."

For this reason, I am joining Andrew's campaign to stop NYU from acting on this outrageous and insupportable proposal. It was disheartening enough when NYU, following its renovation of the Playhouse, removed it from the market for both commercial and nonprofit producers. To demolish it now would be unspeakable. Here's another quote from Andrew:

“There’s no reason to demolish a building that is so important to the history of the Village, New York City and the history of the theater,” Berman said.

In an April 18 letter to John Sexton, N.Y.U.’s president, Berman cited one of the N.Y.U. planning principles that calls for reuse of existing buildings before new development...."

Step one is to mobilize the NYC theatre community. I ask you to please call and email NYU President John Sexton at 212-998-2345 and and convey your views.

Please also cc Alicia Hurley (, associate VP for government and community affairs, and John Beckman (, VP for public affairs.

You may also show your support by cc'ing Mr. Berman at You can find a sample letter at

Please forward this email to anyone you know who cares about preserving the birthplace of the modern American theater.

On May 28 there will be a huge public gathering to coincide with a community board meeting on this proposal. In the meantime, I'll be providing updates on this blog.

The Provincetown Playhouse will not be demolished.

Leonard Jacobs

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Leonard, just to chime in my 2cents: thought I'd let you know that I just left the most detailed message that I could for Dean Campbell of Tisch in regard to this travesty. She has been organizing alum's to help with community opposition to Tisch taking the old Tower Records building. I don't have so much a problem with that, but how do you convince the community that you need more theater space when you allow nyu to tear down the Provincetown. I don't think the Law School or Sexton will be moved by community outrage (been there, done that), but if Tisch would stand up, maybe that fight would have more punch. I'll try anything to keep my alma mater from being such a monster.