Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Provincetown Playhouse in Peril

Another piece of American Theatre History is being threatened by the wrecking ball. The ever-expanding NYU is planning to raze the Provincetown Playhouse on MacDougal Street. The playhouse has played host to the New York premieres of much of Eugene O'Neill's work as well as the plays of Edward Albee, Edna St. Vincent Millay and others. Andrew Berman, president of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, had this to say, "This is a world famous historic site that is critical to the development of alternative theatre in America. To demolish it is sacrilege." I agree, but then, I'm partial.

NYU says the expansion is still in the planning phase and that the theatre's demolition is not a done deal while at the same time trying to justify the demolition arguing that after the its 1940s renovation, the Playhouse's exterior bears little resemblance to the original 1918 structure. (Which is true as you can see from the photos.) They similarly rationalized away the demolition of one of Edgar Allen Poe's former residences a few years ago arguing that he didn't live there for very long. Whatever. Someone get this building landmarked and fast!

The original 1918 facade of the Provincetown Playhouse as it looked around 1936.
The exterior as it looks today.

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At 11:13 PM, Blogger Leonard Jacobs said...

We need your help -- thank you for posting this.

I am Leonard Jacobs, the national theatre editor of Back Stage and first-string critic for Back Stage and the New York Press. And I am serving as one of the primary liaisons to the working New York theatre community in the fight to stop NYU from demolishing this icon of American theatre.

Please visit this link and consider emailing NYU President Sexton and others addicted to a culture of demolition:

Thank you!

At 10:09 AM, Blogger judy said...

Thank you, Leonard Jacobs. I have just sent my email to President Sexton, and I hope many others will follow.
Nice work, Michael, let's see if we can't stir up an internet storm to sink this demolition ship. I must say that I was shocked to hear this story on the news yesterday and happy to be able to take some small action to stop it.


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