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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 11, 2022
“Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place”

“Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place” is a saying that has been printed on many images. The saying is credited to American modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham (1894-1991).
 
Graham said this many times, with slight variations. “I think theater was a verb before it was a noun. First it was an act and then there was dialogue” was printed in the Kansas City (MO) Star on November 8, 1970. “To me, theater is a verb before it’s a noun. It’s the act of theater that’s the important thing” was printed in Newsday (Melville, NY) on April 20, 1973. “To me the word theater was a verb before it became a noun” was posted on Newspapers.com by The Register (Danville, VA) on June 3, 1973.
 
“I believe that the word ‘theater’ was a verb before it was a noun: It was an act before it was a place, and all of my works deal with life rather than design” was printed in the Des Moines (IA) Register on January 8, 1974.
 
     
Wikipedia: Martha Graham
Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer. Her style, the Graham technique, reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide.
         
Newspapers.com
8 November 1970, Kansas City (MO) Star, “Martha Graham Defies the Years” by by Glenna Syse (Chicago Sun-Times), pg. 25A, col. 8:
“I think theater was a verb before it was a noun. First it was an act and then there was dialogue.”
       
Newspapers.com
20 April 1973, Newsday (Melville, NY), “Martha Graham: The Dance World’s Lively Monument” by Bob Micklin, pg. 5A, col. 1:
“My life belongs to the theater. To me, theater is a verb before it’s a noun. It’s the act of theater that’s the important thing.”
   
Newspapers.com
3 June 1973, The Register (Danville, VA), “Dancer Martha Graham Still Creates Dramatic Works” by Mary Campbell (AP Newsfeatures Writer), pg. 15-C, col. 1:
“To me the word theater was a verb before it became a noun.”
 
Newspapers.com
8 January 1974, Des Moines (IA) Register, “Dancing With Martha Graham” by Henriette Buckmaster (The Christian Science Monitor), pg. 7, col. 1:
“When I start a dance, I’m absorbed with an idea, because my ideas deal with theater as a very definite and strong impulse in life. I believe that the word “theater” was a verb before it was a noun: It was an act before it was a place, and all of my works deal with life rather than design.”
 
Newspapers.com
4 May 1975, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “The Martha Graham” by Linda Winer, Magazine sec., pg. 24, col. 3:
She talks about her technique and her esthetic (“theater was a verb before it was a noun and before it was a building”).
 
Newspapers.com
23 July 1979, The Daily Telegraph (London, UK), “Robin Stringer meets Martha Graham,” pg. 8, col. 4:
She is the living embodiment of her own dictum that theatre is a verb rather than a noun.
 
OCLC WorldCat record
Theatre as a verb : the theatre art of Martha Graham, 1923-1958
Author: Diana Snyder
Thesis, Dissertation, English, 1980
Dissertation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
 
Newspapers.com
14 October 1980, San Francisco (CA) Examiner, “The Dance Makers,” pg. E2, col. 1:
Sitting regally in a chair at the edge of the stage, Graham starts the evening by scolding the audience as she might chide students in a classroom. “Theater was a verb before it was a noun. It was an act before it was a building.”
   
Google Books
Dance Words
Compiled by Valerie Preston-Dunlop
New York, NY: Routledge
1995
Pg. 21:
“Theater was a verb before it was a noun. It was an act before it was a building.”
Martha Graham in Elinor Rogosin, 1980
 
Google Books
The Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations
By Hugh Rawson and Margaret Miner
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2006
Pg. 72:
Theater was a verb before it was a noun. —Martha Graham, Blood Memory, 1991
 
Twitter
Whitney
@Scottie_Whitney
“Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.” -Martha Graham
1:09 PM · Aug 20, 2009
     
Twitter
Lincoln Center
@LincolnCenter
“Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.”—Martha Graham
2:43 PM · Dec 1, 2013
 
Twitter
Playhouse Apps
@Playhouse_Apps
Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place. Martha Graham
9:00 AM · Oct 27, 2022

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Sunday, December 11, 2022 • Permalink


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