Saturday, May 17, 2008

Provincetown Playhouse Productions

I was furnished with this extraordinary list of Provincetown Playhouse production by a colleague named Robert Blodgett who is working on the advocacy and anti-demolition project. Read this and tell me if you're not stunned.

Partial List of Plays and Their Opening Dates
Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street

*Denotes world premiere.

The Provincetown Playhouse at 133 MacDougal was inaugurated on November 22, 1918, with three one-act plays:

*Eugene O’Neill, Where the Cross Is Made
Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Princess Marries the Page
*Florence Kiper Frank, Gee-Rusalem

A sampling of other plays includes:

*Eugene O’Neill, The Moon of the Caribbees, December 20, 1918

*Edna Ferber, The Eldest, January 9, 1919

*Susan Glaspell, Bernice, March 21, 1919

*Eugene O’Neill, The Dreamy Kid, October 31, 1919

*Edna St. Vincent Millay, Aria da Capo, December 6, 1919

*Lewis Beach, Brothers, December 6, 1919

Wilbur Steele, Not Smart, December 6, 1919

*Eugene O’Neill, Exorcism, March 26, 1920

*Eugene O’Neill, The Emperor Jones, November 1, 1920 – Professional acting debut of Paul Robeson. “The play has been one of the sensations of the season,” according to The New York Times.

*Lawrence Langner, Matinata, November 1, 1920

*Eugene O’Neill, Diff’rent, December 27, 1920

*George Cram Cook, The Spring, 1920

*Susan Glaspell, Inheritors, March 29, 1921

*Susan Glaspell, The Verge, November 14, 1921

*Theodore Dreiser, The Hand of the Potter, December 5, 1921

*Edna St. Vincent Millay, Two Slatterns and a King, 1921

Susan Glaspell, Trifles, 1921

*Eugene O’Neill, The Hairy Ape, March 9, 1922

*Susan Glaspell, Chains of Dew, April 27, 1922.

*John Luther Long, Crowns, November 6, 1922

Sholom Ash, The God of Vengeance, December 20, 1922

August Strindberg, The Spook Sonata, January 5, 1924 – American premiere

*Eugene O’Neill, All God’s Chillun Got Wings, May 15, 1924 – Starred Paul Robeson. The play dealt with the marriage of a white woman and a black man and was incredibly controversial. When Mary Blair kissed Paul Robeson, she and the theater received death threats. The city barred the use of child actors, with the result that the prologue – in which the children were supposed to appear – had to be read rather than performed. The New York Times wrote, “From the moment the Provincetown Players announced the production of Eugene O’Neill’s play it was evident that we were in for a campaign of race hatred and bigotry.”

*Edmund Wilson, The Crime in the Whistler Room, October 12, 1924

Eugene O’Neill, S.S. Glencairn, November 3, 1924 – Combined four O’Neill one-act plays previously shown at Provincetown Playhouse

*Sherwood Anderson, The Triumph of the Egg, February 10, 1925 – Starred 19-year-old future movie writer and director John Huston. Time magazine wrote, “John Huston, a hitherto unknown performer, played up and down the tightly tuned wires of Mr. Anderson’s conception and made them vibrant with tragic tones.”

*Hatcher Hughes, Ruint, 7 April 1925

August Strindberg, The Dream Play, January 20, 1926 – American premiere

*Paul Green, In Abraham’s Bosom, December 30, 1926 – Won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

*e.e. cummings, him, April 18, 1928

*Upton Sinclair, Singing Jailbirds, December 6, 1928

*Virgil Geddes, The Earth Between, March 5, 1929 – The New York stage debut of 20-year-old Bette Davis. Time magazine wrote, “The play has a certain intensity of gloom, but much of its force is lost in clumsy ambiguity. However, it permits Miss Bette Davis to do an effective bit of acting as the daughter.”

*Eugene O’Neill, Before Breakfast, March 5, 1929

*Edward Peyton Harris, Homecoming, November 16, 1942

*Horton Foote, Only the Heart, December 5, 1942

*William Saroyan, The Hungerers, The Ping Pong Game, and Hello Out There, August 23, 1945.

Federico Garcia Lorca, The Shoemaker’s Prodigious Wife, June 14, 1949

August Strindberg, The Father, August 1949

Luigi Pirandello, Naked, September 1950

*Sara Reavin, The Ivory Branch, May 24, 1956

*Hans Holzer, Hotel Excelsior, August 7, 1956

*Of Mice and Men (musical version), December 4, 1958 – The musical version of the John Steinbeck novel was staged with his support. It was adapted by Ira J. Bilowit and Wilson Lehr, with music by Alfred Brooks and lyrics by Bilowit.

Samuel Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape, January 14, 1960 – American premiere

Edward Albee, The Zoo Story, January 14, 1960 – American premiere

*Lee Kalcheim, A Party for Divorce and Match Play, October 11, 1966

*Frederick Feirstein, Harold and Sondra, 1967

John Guare, Muzeeka, April 28, 1968 – New York premiere

Sam Shepard, Red Cross, April 28, 1968

*Charles Ludlam, Caprice, 15 April 1976

Sam Shepard, The Unseen Hand and Killer’s Head, January 21, 1982

David Mamet, Edmond, October 27, 1982 – New York premiere

Charles Busch, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, June 19, 1985 – Ran at the Provincetown until 1990

Dario Fo (Italian playwright and Nobel laureate), Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, September 20, 2001 – The play had its American premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then moved to the Provincetown. The performance at the Provincetown was presented by the New York University Steinhardt School of Education’s Program in Educational Theater and the American Repertory Theater.

Here are a few quotes about the Provincetown:

In 1978, Helen Hayes called the Provincetown Playhouse “the cradle of modern drama in America.”

In her 2006 book The Provincetown Players and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge University Press), Brenda Murphy, Professor of English at the University of Connecticut (and a past president of the American Theatre and Drama Society), writes: “The founding of the Provincetown Players is an event that has grown beyond legend to assume the status of myth in the annals of the American theatre. Its significance is paramount because, as theatre historians have recognized, the Provincetown, with its nurturance of self-consciously literary American playwrights like Susan Glaspell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Eugene O’Neill, has come to represent a new conception of the theatre in the United States. The Provincetown is now seen as the major progenitor of experimental non-commercial theatre in America, the pioneering group that taught theatre practitioners how to develop, nurture, and practice theatre as an art in a country where theatre had always been almost exclusively a business.”

Normand Berlin, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, writing in 2005 in Massachusetts Review, said, “The Zoo Story, first produced by the Schiller Theater in Berlin in 1959 on a double-bill with Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, made American theater history when the same double-bill came to the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City in 1960. A new, exciting voice was being heard off-Broadway at a time when Broadway – up to the ‘60s really a synonym for American theater – seemed to be stagnating, with the highest achievements of America’s three major dramatists (O'Neill, Williams, Miller) behind it. America needed a dramatic rebirth. Albee’s play, reviewed by the major New York newspapers, helped to give off-Broadway an importance that it would continue to maintain, with off-off-Broadway and alternate theaters throughout the land soon following.”

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