A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 12, 2017
Birthplace of Modern American Drama (Provincetown Playhouse)

The Provincetown players mounted playwright Eugene O’Neill‘s Bound East for Cardiff, first at a theater on a wharf in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and then in Greenwich Village in New York City. Both places have been called the “Birthplace of Modern American Drama.”

The Provincetown Playhouse, at 133 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, opened in 1918 and was essentially demolished by New York University and replaced with a new theater under the same name in 2010. Off the Grid (a blog of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) did a two-part series titled “Greenwich Village: The Birthplace of Modern American Drama” on June 7 and 17, 2016.


Wikipedia: Provincetown Players
The Provincetown Players was an influential collective of artists, writers, intellectuals, and amateur theater enthusiasts. Under the leadership of the husband and wife team of George Cram “Jig” Cook and Susan Glaspell, the Players produced two seasons in Provincetown, Massachusetts (1915 and 1916) and six seasons in New York City between 1916 and 1923. The company’s founding has been called “the most important innovative moment in American theatre,” in part for launching the careers of Eugene O’Neill and Susan Glaspell, and ushering American theatre into the Modern era.

Wikipedia: Provincetown Playhouse
The Provincetown Playhouse is a historic theatre at 133 MacDougal Street between West 3rd and West 4th Streets in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is named for the Provincetown Players, who converted the former bottling plant into a theater in 1918. The original players were Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Djuna Barnes. Paul Robeson performed at the theatre, and E. E. Cummings had his plays performed in the building. Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert made their New York stage debuts in the facility.

The theater was originally located at 139 MacDougal when it opened in 1916; it moved to its current space in 1918. The building was extensively renovated in 1940. There has been controversy over whether the site deserves to have landmark status. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on April 29, 2008 said that the site did not have the “historical and architectural integrity required for individual New York City landmark designation”, but the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation found the building eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, in response to a request from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP).

The same year, New York University proposed to demolish the entire building and rebuild a facility for its law school, as well as a new theater.

Provincetown Theater
Located in Provincetown, the Birthplace of Modern American Theater
(...)
Provincetown Theater Foundation
Provincetown is the undisputed birthplace of Modern American drama. Ever since the Provincetown Players produced Eugene O’Neill’s Bound East for Cardiff in 1916, the town has hosted and nurtured playwrights and writers – from Tennessee Williams to contemporary award-winners such as Norman Mailer, Michael Cunningham, Wendy Kesselman, Paula Vogel and John Guare.

Google Books
Design Competition Manual II
Vision, the Center for Environmental Design and Education
1982
Pg. 3:
This historic theater, regarded as the birthplace of modern American drama since Eugene 0’Neill produced his first play there in 1916, had burned to the ground at the hands of arsonists in the summer of 1977.

Google Books
Modern American Drama:
The Female Canon

By June Schlueter
Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London: Associated University Presses
1990
Pg. 66:
Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) is a prime example of the “peculiar eclipsing” so frequently suffered by women writers. She devoted eight years to the Provincetown Players, and her plays alone would have justified the claim that the sand dunes of Provincetown were the birthplace of modern American drama.2

2 August 1997, The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA) “On the go Provincetown has professional theater again” by Vera Vida, pg. 48:
Provincetown—called the birthplace of modern American drama—has a serious professional ...

Google Books
Mailer: A Biography
By Mary V. Dearborn
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin
1999
Pg. 219:
It had a deck over the water and was the immediate neighbor of the John Dos Passos home and Mary Heaton’s legendary wharf, the birthplace of modern American drama, where Eugene O’Neill’s first play, Bound East for Cardiff, was staged in 1916; its history was important to his actress wife.

New York (NY) Times
Rebuilt Theater Opening Amid Debate
By ROBIN POGREBIN
Published: December 11, 2010
It has a storied past that includes names like Eugene O’Neill and Edward Albee, and on Saturday the newly renovated Provincetown Playhouse will be opened to the public by New York University, which says it spent $4.5 million restoring a building that has played an important role in Greenwich Village and theatrical history.
(...)
Such programs do not mitigate the damage for preservationists like Mr. Bankoff. (Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council.—ed.)

‘’Replacing what had been widely known as the birthplace of modern American drama and a major touchstone in 20th-century theater with law offices is a shame,’’ he said. ‘’It just seems like a real tragedy.’’

Google Books
Modern Drama:
A Very Short Introduction

By Kirsten Shepherd-Barr
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2016
Pg. 28:
In 1916, this rickety little theatre poised on the edge of a wharf became the unlikely birthplace of modern American drama, establishing the Little Theatre Movement, influenced by the developments in Europe.

Off the Grid (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation)
Greenwich Village: The Birthplace of Modern American Drama
BY LANNYL – JUNE 7, 2016
POSTED IN: UNCATEGORIZED, WEST VILLAGE
Greenwich Village has been a hot-bed for creative theatrical minds since at least the beginnings of the 20th century.  In fact, among the most important of the movements in American theater were nurtured right in the heart of the Village.

In September of 1916, a group of artists from Provincetown, Massachusetts, who had become disillusioned by the commercialism of Broadway, moved their group to New York City where they felt the could have more of an impact on the art.  They sought to “establish a stage where playwrights of sincere, poetic, literary and dramatic purpose could see their plays in action and superintend their production without submitting to the commercial managers’ interpretation of public taste.” Lofty goals, indeed.  However, it did not take them long to establish themselves in New York and attract writers, artists and an audience of like mind.

Among those who joined the Provincetown Players within their first year in the city were none other than Edna St. Vincent Millay and Eugene O’Neill.  The group rented a parlor space at 139 MacDougal Street for $50 a month and began their quest to liberate the American playwright.

Off the Grid (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation)
Greenwich Village: Birthplace of Modern American Drama part 2 in a series
BY LANNYL – JUNE 17, 2016
POSTED IN: UNCATEGORIZED, WEST VILLAGE
I burn my candle at both ends,
It will not last the night.CL now
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It gives a lovely light.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Cherry Lane theatre, located on Commerce Street, a cul-de-sac in the heart of Greenwich Village, was the brainchild of poet, playwright, actress, and infamous Villager, Edna St. Vincent Millay, a woman who did, indeed, burn her candle at both ends. While most famous as a poet, Millay was originally a member of the ProvincetowTrue west at cln Players, the group who began the Provincetown Playhouse. Millay moved away from that group in 1924 to form her own experimental theatre at the Cherry Lane with a group of local artists. The space they chose was a former brewery and box factory building, which dated back to 1836. The plot of land had belonged to the Gomez family farm, and on that particular parcel stood a silo prior to becoming a brewery. Since its incarnation as a theatre, it has been home to some of America’s most innovative movements in theater and theatrical literature. The Cherry Lane claims to be the space where “Off-Broadway” was born.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Sunday, November 12, 2017 • Permalink