Theatre Genesis was an off-off-Broadway theater founded in 1964 by Ralph Cook. Located in the historic St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in the East Village of Manhattan, it produced the work of new American playwrights, including Lanford Wilson, Murray Mednick, Leonard Melfi, Walter Hadler, Sam Shepard. Theatre Genesis is credited as one of the original off-off-Broadway theaters, along with Joe Cino's Caffe Cino, Ellen Stewart's La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Judson Poets Theatre; the theatre was known for its anarchistic, machismo energy, produced political plays. Like the other off-off-Broadway theatres, Theatre Genesis used a non-commercial model of production. A young, progressive Episcopalian rector named Michael Allen came to St. Mark's in 1963 and opened the parish to everyone from the neighborhood, he did outreach to the many demographics and ethnicities in the East Village, which included artists, counterculturists and homeless people, among others. Allen aimed to fund arts and education initiatives in order to reflect the character of the neighborhood.
Unlike Judson Church, in the West Village, the cultural programming at St. Mark's received minimal resistance from the church's older, more conservative members. Plays, poetry readings, underground films, political gatherings began happening at the church. Allen decided an additional staff member was necessary to coordinate this programming, hired Ralph Cook. After temporarily employing the curator Tom Pike, Allen met Ralph Cook, an actor, who came to one of Allen's Sunday services. Cook began coming to the church and Allen and Cook became friends. Allen hired Cook for the role of curator, as Cook was well-connected in the downtown arts scene and had many friends who were looking for a space to showcase their creative work, his friends included Sam Shepard, Murray Mednick, Leonard Melfi, Tom Sankey, among others. Their writing reflected the political and social upheaval that they were witnessing, was full of angst and testosterone, their work didn't fit comfortably into the perceived camp aesthetic and looser structure at Caffe Cino and La MaMa.
The church housed a 70-seat black box theater with sixteen lights, nine dimmers, spare sets, minimal props. Much of the work being produced at the theatre had nihilistic themes. Cook said of Theatre Genesis: Here, now, in lower Manhattan, the phenomenon is taking place: the beginning, the Genesis, of a cultural revolution, it is taking place out of utter necessity. Out of the necessity to survive.... I have little hope for the survival of our civilization, but whatever hope. For they alone have the ability to withstand the onslaught of the mass media and the multitude of false gods, they alone have the ability to show us ourselves. As the theatre's newly-hired "lay minister of the arts", Cook began his routine of reading scripts, he created a diligent and thorough selection process with a two-pronged production track: there was a season of six or fewer new plays, a Monday night workshop series where playwrights could have their work read. Cook believed in giving new playwrights exposure and continuity, in order to develop the artist in addition to the individual play.
Cook never guaranteed that a work would be produced in the future. While this led Genesis playwrights to produce their work elsewhere, it developed their trust in Cook to be honest and objective. After an early off-key production of Michael Boyd's Study in Color, Cook produced a double-bill of one-acts by Sam Shepard. Cowboys and The Rock Garden were both homages to Samuel Beckett, reflected Shepard's wanderings with then-comrade Charles Mingus III; the one-acts harnessed his youthful energy, using playful language, but represented a raw, innovative voice from the streets. Shepard describes those first productions: We were in rehearsal for within that week... We had no money. I can remember getting props off the street. We'd take Yuban coffee cans, punch a hole in them, use them for lights. We did it all from scratch, pretty incredible. Cowboys and The Rock Garden were dismissed by critics, who could not see past the similarities to Beckett. However, Michael Smith of The Village Voice wrote in 1964: I know it sounds pretentious and unprepossessing:'Theatre Genesis... dedicated to the new playwright'...
But they have found a new playwright, he has written a pair of provocative and genuinely original plays... Shepard is feeling his way, working with an intuitive approach to language and dramatic structure and moving into an area between ritual and naturalism, where character transcends psychology, fantasy breaks down literalism, the patterns of ordinariness have their own lives, his is a gestalt theater. Smith's review bolstered attendance, allowing the public to notice Shepard and introducing other new playwrights to the theatre. Although Shepard's work was produced in other off-off-Broadway theaters, he considered Theatre Genesis his true beginning. In 1965, his one-act Chicago was produced alongside Lawrence Ferlinghetti's The Customs Inspector in Baggy Pants; the production was transferred to another theatre due to its success, which caused problems for shows like Chicago for multiple reasons. First, Theatre Genesis plays were written in response to the consumerist model of off-Broadway theatre.
They were written for the gritty, intimate environment of Theatre Genesis. Uptown, the plays were less successful. Sally Banes has argued that, "For off-off-Broadway, graduating to off-Broadway - leaving the alte
Joseph "Joe" Cino, was an Italian-American theatre producer. The Off-Off-Broadway theatre movement is credited to have begun at Cino's Caffe Cino in the West Village of Manhattan. Joe Cino moved from Buffalo to New York City to become a dancer. In 1958, Cino retired from dancing and rented a storefront at 31 Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village to open a coffeehouse where his friends could socialize, he and his early customers created their own patois of English. He did not intend Caffe Cino to become a theatre, instead visualized a café where he could host folk music concerts, poetry readings, art exhibits. Actor and theatre director Bill Mitchell says he suggested that Cino start producing plays at the Cino. Dated photographs show that plays were staged at the coffeehouse from at least December 1958. After 1960, plays were directed by Bob Dahdah. Cino saw theatre as another kind of event to host. Compared to painting and writing, theatre is an expensive art form that requires a space and collaborators, is subject to the scrutiny of church and the press.
The Caffe Cino made its living not from public approval of the work it presented, but from selling food and drink. No one was paid, except the police who were paid off, reviewers came, theatre entered the modern era, which the other art forms had entered a hundred years earlier. Dozens of theaters based on the Cino model began to appear in places making their living other ways: cafes, art galleries, churches. To distinguish these theaters from Broadway and Off-Broadway, this new theatre world became known as Off-Off-Broadway. For the first time in history, the stage could be unpopular, an area of primary expression, novelty, a vehicle for social and aesthetic change. One novelist wrote: "Off-Off-Broadway: The first place in human history where theatre is treated as the equal of the other arts, as a thing responsible and important above popularity ratings, outside monetary concerns, beyond academic and legal restrictions: The first studio of theater where playwrights can experiment as painters and poets have done for a century, free from the tyranny of audience, box-office and criticism."
Caffe Cino's first productions were plays from established playwrights such as Tennessee Williams and Jean Giraudoux. The first original play Cino produced is thought to be James Howard's Flyspray, in the summer of 1960. Cino became so excited by the audience response and his own response to the plays that he established a weekly schedule for theatrical performances, he introduced the acts by saying, "It's magic time!"The first productions at Caffe Cino were done on the café floor. Cino constructed a makeshift 8' x 8' stage from milk cartons and carpet remnants to use for some productions; the limited space dictated a need for small casts and minimal sets built from scraps Cino found in the streets. Cino relied on lighting designer Johnny Dodd, who lit the stage using electricity stolen from the city grid by Cino's lover, electrician Jonathan "Jon" Torrey; the space created intimacy between the performers and audience, with little room for typical fourth-wall illusionary theatre. Cino decorated the café with fairy lights, mobiles and Chinese lanterns, covered the walls with memorabilia and personal effects.
Cino read the plays submitted for his consideration. He was more to ask a novice playwright what his astrological sign was. If he liked the answer, he staged the play. Many of the young playwrights who premiered their works at Cino's venue, including Doric Wilson, William M. Hoffman, Robert Patrick, John Guare, Tom Eyen, Sam Shepard, Robert Heide, Paul Foster, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Lanford Wilson. Wilson's four hits in 1961 made him off-off-Broadway's first cult success and proved that there was an audience for new, daring plays. Foster's Beckettian puppet play, was so popular that one of the first articles about off-off-Broadway was titled, "Have You Caught'Balls?'" Wilson's The Madness of Lady Bright, about a lonely, aging drag queen, was the Cino's breakthrough hit. The play was performed with Neil Flanagan in the title role. Although playwrights Jerry Caruana, Claris Nelson, David Starkweather had each presented numerous well-received works at the Caffe Cino, it was the success of The Madness of Lady Bright which convinced Cino to concentrate on works by new playwrights.
Caffe Cino was a friendly social center for gay men at a time when most gay life was restricted to bars and bathhouses. Although The Madness of Lady Bright is referred to as the first American play to feature an explicitly gay character, a number of earlier Cino productions dealt with gay identity, including Wilson's 1961 Now She Dances! Alan Lysander James presented several programs of Oscar Wilde material at the Cino from 1962 through 1965, while director Andy Milligan staged a number of homoerotic productions, including Jean Genet's The Maids and Deathwatch and a dramatization of Tennessee Williams' short story One Arm, the first production at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. After The Madness of Lady Bright, the Cino came to
Ellen Stewart was an African-American theatre director and producer and the founder of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. During the 1950s she worked as a fashion designer for Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel. Ellen Stewart was born either in Louisiana; this uncertainty stems from Stewart's reticence to reveal details of her early life. As an observer wrote, "Her history is somewhat difficult to sort out — indeed it takes on a legendary quality — since on different occasions she gives different versions of the same stories." Stewart said that her father was a tailor from Louisiana and her mother was a teacher, that they divorced during her youth. Around 1939, Stewart may have become the second wife of Larry Lebanus Hovell, a Chicago waiter, a native of Alexandria, though it is possible they never wed, they had one child, a son, Larry Lebanus Hovell, II. Stewart moved to New York City in 1950, where she worked as a trimmer in the brassiere-and-corset department at Saks Fifth Avenue and as a dress designer under the direction of Edith Lances, head of the department store's custom-corset department.
Stewart continued to work as a fashion designer throughout the 1970s. Most notably, she worked for a manufacturer called Victor Bijou designing "sport dresses and beach wraps". Stewart had no background in theatre, yet became a key figure in the beginnings of the Off-Off-Broadway movement. In 1961, Stewart founded Café La MaMa together with others, her foster brother, Frederick Lights, wanted to be a playwright. One of the major reasons she began the theatre was because he was having difficulty getting his work produced. Café La MaMa became La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club; the theatre was named La MaMa after Stewart, who many referred to as "Mama". La MaMa was created as a space for playwrights to experiment with their new work without the interference of critics or commercial interests; these young playwrights included Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Robert Patrick, Harvey Fierstein as well as actors like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Bette Midler. In the early days of La MaMa, Stewart continued designing clothing to support the theatre.
She had an incredible work ethic and dedication, her influence on experimental theatre was enormous. Stewart was known to come out before a performance to “ring a cowbell and announce La MaMa’s dedication to the playwright and all aspects of the theatre.” She contributed to many of the early productions as a designer, including Tom Eyen's Miss Nefertiti Regrets and Andrei Serban's production of Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan. In 1969, La MaMa moved to 74A East Fourth Street, built into a 99-seat theatre with the financial support of W. MacNeil Lowry and the Ford Foundation. In 1974, Stewart converted a former television studio at 66 East Fourth Street into a 295-seat theatre called the Annex; the Annex was renamed the Ellen Stewart Theatre in 2009. La MaMa has an art gallery and a six-story rehearsal space in the East Village. Altogether, La MaMa puts up 70 productions a year. In 1992, Stewart was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, she was the first Off-Off-Broadway Producer to receive this honor.
In 2007, she was awarded the Praemium Imperiale in the field of Film and Theater and the Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Award, granted annually by the Polish Centre of the International Theatre Institute for "outstanding achievements in the promotion of Polish theatre throughout the world". In 2005, Tom O'Horgan presented Stewart with the Stewardship Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Awards; this honor was bestowed to Stewart on behalf of her peers and fellow artists of the Off-Off-Broadway community "in recognition of her significant contributions to the Off-Off-Broadway community through service and leadership". Stewart started directing theatre in her life. In 1985, she directed. Stewart directed the Great Jones Repertory Company in Mythos Oedipus at the Delphi Stadium during their 1985 tour of Greece; that same year she directed Cotton Club Gala with music by Aaron Bell. In 1989, she directed the Great Jones Repertory Company in Dionysus Filius Dei, her work was produced internationally in Uruguay, Austria, Turkey, the Philippines, Central Africa, Senegal, Brazil, Morocco, Israel and Yugoslavia.
She both taught in many of these nations. She was a visiting professor at the Institute of Drama in South Korea and was a member of the Seoul International Theatre Institute; the New Eastern European Theatre was introduced to La MaMa when Stewart brought Jerzy Grotowski, Ryszard Cieslak, Ludwig Flaszen to visit the United States with support from Ted Hoffman of New York University. She was appointed an officer in the Ordre de Arts et des Lettres of France and received a Distiguished Services to Art and Culture Award in the Ukraine, she received an award from Japan and a human rights award from the Philippines. More the Ellen Stewart International Award was created to be given to ”an individual theatre artist or theatre company whose work promotes social change and community participation with a particular focus on the engagement of young people.” The International Executive Committee chooses ten artists or companies gives the award to one of the ten chosen. The awardee receives a trip to attend the International Theatre Institute’s World Congress and a residency at La MaMa Umbria to create a new work to be produced at the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds
The Obie Awards or Off-Broadway Theater Awards are annual awards given by The Village Voice newspaper to theatre artists and groups in New York City. In September 2014, the awards were jointly presented and administered with the American Theatre Wing; as the Tony Awards cover Broadway productions, the Obie Awards cover Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway productions. The Obie Awards were initiated by Edwin Fancher, publisher of The Village Voice, who handled the financing and business side of the project, they were first given in 1956 under the direction of theater critic Jerry Tallmer. Only Off-Broadway productions were eligible; the first Obie Awards ceremony was held at Helen Gee's cafe. With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and Best New American Play awards, there are no fixed categories at the Obie Awards, the winning actors and actresses are all in a single category titled "Performance." There are no announced nominations. Awards in the past have included performance, best production, special citations, sustained achievement.
Not every category is awarded every year. The Village Voice awards annual Obie grants to selected companies. There is a Ross Wetzsteon Grant, named after its former theater editor, in the amount of $2,000, for a theatre that nurtures innovative new plays; the first awards in 1955-1956 for plays and musicals were given to Absalom as Best New Play, Uncle Vanya, Best All-Around Production and The Threepenny Opera as Best Musical. Other awards for Off-Broadway theatre are the Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, the Drama League Award, the Outer Critics Circle Awards; as of September 2014, the Obie Awards are jointly presented by the American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice, with the Wing having "overall responsibility for running" the Awards. Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actor Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Ensemble Sustained Achievement Award Best New American Theatre Work Award Playwriting Award Design Award Special Citations Obie Grants The Ross Wetzsteon Award Obie Award ceremonies have been held at Webster Hall in Manhattan's East Village since the 2010-2011 season.
Winners from Infoplease.com "OBIE winners, 2011–2012", playbill.com "OBIE winners, 2012–2013", playbill.com "OBIE winners, 2013–2014", playbill.com "OBIE winners, 2014–2015", playbill.com "OBIE winners, 2015–2016", playbill.com OBIE winners, 2017 OBIE winners, 20182010s 2000s Obie Grants are awarded each year to select theatre companies. Previous recipients include: Ross Wetzsteon Award is a $2,000 grant awarded to a theatre that nurture innovative new plays. Previous recipients include: Official website
Broadway theatre known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world; the Theater District is a popular tourist attraction in New York City. According to The Broadway League, for the 2017–2018 season total attendance was 13,792,614 and Broadway shows had US$1,697,458,795 in grosses, with attendance up 3.9%, grosses up 17.1%, playing weeks up 2.8%. The majority of Broadway shows are musicals. Historian Martin Shefter argues that "'Broadway musicals', culminating in the productions of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, became enormously influential forms of American popular culture" and contributed to making New York City the cultural capital of the Western Hemisphere.
New York did not have a significant theatre presence until about 1750, when actor-managers Walter Murray and Thomas Kean established a resident theatre company at the Theatre on Nassau Street, which held about 280 people. They presented Shakespeare ballad operas such as The Beggar's Opera. In 1752, William Hallam sent a company of twelve actors from Britain to the colonies with his brother Lewis as their manager, they established a theatre in Williamsburg and opened with The Merchant of Venice and The Anatomist. The company moved to New York in the summer of 1753, performing ballad operas and ballad-farces like Damon and Phillida; the Revolutionary War suspended theatre in New York, but thereafter theatre resumed in 1798, the year the 2,000-seat Park Theatre was built on Chatham Street. The Bowery Theatre opened followed by others. By the 1840s, P. T. Barnum was operating an entertainment complex in Lower Manhattan. In 1829, at Broadway and Prince Street, Niblo's Garden opened and soon became one of New York's premiere nightspots.
The 3,000-seat theatre presented all sorts of non-musical entertainments. In 1844, Palmo's Opera House opened and presented opera for only four seasons before bankruptcy led to its rebranding as a venue for plays under the name Burton's Theatre; the Astor Opera House opened in 1847. A riot broke out in 1849 when the lower-class patrons of the Bowery objected to what they perceived as snobbery by the upper class audiences at Astor Place: "After the Astor Place Riot of 1849, entertainment in New York City was divided along class lines: opera was chiefly for the upper middle and upper classes, minstrel shows and melodramas for the middle class, variety shows in concert saloons for men of the working class and the slumming middle class."The plays of William Shakespeare were performed on the Broadway stage during the period, most notably by American actor Edwin Booth, internationally known for his performance as Hamlet. Booth played the role for a famous 100 consecutive performances at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1865, would revive the role at his own Booth's Theatre.
Other renowned Shakespeareans who appeared in New York in this era were Henry Irving, Tommaso Salvini, Fanny Davenport, Charles Fechter. Theatre in New York moved from downtown to midtown beginning around 1850, seeking less expensive real estate. In the beginning of the 19th century, the area that now comprises the Theater District was owned by a handful of families and comprised a few farms. In 1836, Mayor Cornelius Lawrence opened 42nd Street and invited Manhattanites to "enjoy the pure clean air." Close to 60 years theatrical entrepreneur Oscar Hammerstein I built the iconic Victoria Theater on West 42nd Street. Broadway's first "long-run" musical was a 50-performance hit called The Elves in 1857. In 1870, the heart of Broadway was in Union Square, by the end of the century, many theatres were near Madison Square. Theatres did not arrive in the Times Square area until the early 1900s, the Broadway theatres did not consolidate there until a large number of theatres were built around the square in the 1920s and 1930s.
New York runs continued to lag far behind those in London, but Laura Keene's "musical burletta" The Seven Sisters shattered previous New York records with a run of 253 performances. It was at a performance by Keene's troupe of Our American Cousin in Washington, D. C. that Abraham Lincoln was shot. The first theatre piece that conforms to the modern conception of a musical, adding dance and original music that helped to tell the story, is considered to be The Black Crook, which premiered in New York on September 12, 1866; the production was five-and-a-half hours long, but despite its length, it ran for a record-breaking 474 performances. The same year, The Black Domino/Between You, Me and the Post was the first show to call itself a "musical comedy". Tony Pastor opened the first vaudeville theatre one block east of Union Square in 1881, where Lillian Russell performed. Comedians Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart produced and starred in musicals on Broadway between 1878 and 1890, with book and lyrics by Harrigan and music by his father-in-law David Braham.
These musical comedies featured characters and situations taken from the everyday life of New York's lower classes and represented a significant step forward from vaudeville and burlesque, towards a more literate form. They starred high quality singers, instead of the women of questionable repute who had starred in earlier m
New York City
The City of New York called either New York City or New York, is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles, New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural and media capital of the world, exerts a significant impact upon commerce, research, education, tourism, art and sports; the city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
Situated on one of the world's largest natural harbors, New York City consists of five boroughs, each of, a separate county of the State of New York. The five boroughs – Brooklyn, Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island – were consolidated into a single city in 1898; the city and its metropolitan area constitute the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. New York City is home to more than 3.2 million residents born outside the United States, the largest foreign-born population of any city in the world. In 2017, the New York metropolitan area produced a gross metropolitan product of US$1.73 trillion. If greater New York City were a sovereign state, it would have the 12th highest GDP in the world. New York is home to the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world. New York City traces its origins to a trading post founded by colonists from the Dutch Republic in 1624 on Lower Manhattan.
The city and its surroundings came under English control in 1664 and were renamed New York after King Charles II of England granted the lands to his brother, the Duke of York. New York served as the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790, it has been the country's largest city since 1790. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to the U. S. by ship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is an international symbol of the U. S. and its ideals of liberty and peace. In the 21st century, New York has emerged as a global node of creativity and entrepreneurship, social tolerance, environmental sustainability, as a symbol of freedom and cultural diversity. Many districts and landmarks in New York City are well known, with the city having three of the world's ten most visited tourist attractions in 2013 and receiving a record 62.8 million tourists in 2017. Several sources have ranked New York the most photographed city in the world. Times Square, iconic as the world's "heart" and its "Crossroads", is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theater District, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections, a major center of the world's entertainment industry.
The names of many of the city's landmarks and parks are known around the world. Manhattan's real estate market is among the most expensive in the world. New York is home to the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, with multiple signature Chinatowns developing across the city. Providing continuous 24/7 service, the New York City Subway is the largest single-operator rapid transit system worldwide, with 472 rail stations. Over 120 colleges and universities are located in New York City, including Columbia University, New York University, Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top universities in the world. Anchored by Wall Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York has been called both the most economically powerful city and the leading financial center of the world, the city is home to the world's two largest stock exchanges by total market capitalization, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. In 1664, the city was named in honor of the Duke of York.
James's older brother, King Charles II, had appointed the Duke proprietor of the former territory of New Netherland, including the city of New Amsterdam, which England had seized from the Dutch. During the Wisconsinan glaciation, 75,000 to 11,000 years ago, the New York City region was situated at the edge of a large ice sheet over 1,000 feet in depth; the erosive forward movement of the ice contributed to the separation of what is now Long Island and Staten Island. That action left bedrock at a shallow depth, providing a solid foundation for most of Manhattan's skyscrapers. In the precolonial era, the area of present-day New York City was inhabited by Algonquian Native Americans, including the Lenape, whose homeland, known as Lenapehoking, included Staten Island; the first documented visit into New York Harbor by a European was in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine explorer in the service of the French crown. He named it Nouvelle Angoulême. A Spanish expedition led by captain Estêvão Gomes, a Portuguese sailing for Emperor Charles V, arrived in New York Harbor in January 1525 and charted the mouth of the Hudson River, which he named Río de San Antonio.
The Padrón Rea