Theatre History II, Week Six
Theatre History II, Week Six THEA 24200
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Levine on Wednesday March 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THEA 24200 at Ithaca College taught by Dr. Chrystyna Dail in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views. For similar materials see History of Theatre II in Theatre at Ithaca College.
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Date Created: 03/16/16
2.29.16 Emergence of Community and Regional Theater in the US (1911-1940) -Following the break up of the Syndicate – led to a demand for artistic productions and US playwrights -Many theatre artists (mostly Marxists) see theatre as more than just a job; it’s a higher calling -Little Theatre Movement (1911) -Directly influenced by the Art Theatres and Social Protest theatres of Europe; agit-prop theatre very popular -Small houses (299-500 seat houses) with a resident acting/directing/designing company -At the time, most were interested in experimentation (now, it’s low-key the opposite; they just do shitty recreations of Broadway) -Washington Square Players (1914-1918), inspired by Theatre Libré and the Moscow Art Theatre -Splinter group from the Liberal Club in Greenwich Village on MacDougal, which was a slightly subversive group for “good companionship and exciting discussions about art, literature, sex, and psychology”; “A meeting place for those interested in new ideas” -Young artists disappointed by Broadway/the theatrical scene in general decide to start their own theatre (http://www.ithacatheatrecollective.tk <3) -All were middle/upper-class artists -Rent a 299 seat house on E 57 with a small group of subscribers -Run by committee (moving toward the non-profit model) -Tickets for 50 cents; subscriptions for $5 -New American works and European works that had been ignored -First production (The Glittering Gate) opened to rave reviews with an entirely volunteer cast and crew -Dissolved because of financial troubles and the start of WWI (all the men got drafted) -Actually produced some female playwrights!!!!! -Provincetown Players (1915-1929) -Spinoff of the Washington Square Players -Founded by George Cram Cook, Susan Glaspell, Robert Edmond Jones, and Eugene O’Neill -A bunch of hip, relatively wealthy twenty-something theatre professionals go on vacation together for the summer and hang out in Provincetown, MA; while there, they decide to start their own company, rehearsing quite literally anywhere they can until they find a small wharf space and finally produce their first play (casually written by Eugene O’Neill), which is a play about a shipwreck taking place in a theatre where the sea is literally leaking in and washing over the audience’s feet -Eventually move to Greenwich Village -Split into two companies in 1923 (Provincetown Players and Experimental Theatre, Inc.) -Super into independence buuuut then one of O’Neill’s plays got picked up for Broadway and George Cram Cook went to Europe; O’Neill and a couple of the others decide, then, to start Experimental Theatre, Inc. -The Theatre Guild (1918-1942) -Basically just a reimagining of the Washington Square Players (started by the same people) but fully professional -Started a couple months after the end of WWI by a board of seven people (six of whom started with the WSP) -Six guiding principles: has an artistic director but is governed by a board of managers; fully professional; produce full-length plays; 500-600 seating capacity; subscription-based; no plays authored by board members -Sound like a regional theatre? It freakin’ is! -First show goes well but not super well; their next show was considerably more successful because AEA had a huge strike right before it opened so it was legitimately the only theatre in New York for a while -Had 80,000 subscribers across the country at their peak (1930), as well as an acting school -The board dissolves in 1939 but officially closes in 1942 -The Group Theatre (1931-1940) -Evolved out of the Theatre Guild (as a reaction to them getting kind of boring and European) from a desire to produce the voice of the US -Founded by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg; one by one, they start bringing in other members of the Theatre Guild -They escape the city for a summer to Connecticut (to, weirdly, what is now the O’Neill Center) and dump all their money into the Group -Start with 27 group members and their families living communally in a one- house building in Connecticut -First play: House of Connolly, produced in 1931 -Most cite it as the most stressful summer ever; imagine a lot of actors living together in close quarters while simultaneously doing Strasberg’s method exercises -Very very Leftist -Clifford Odets (Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing!) becomes their #1 playwright; Strasberg ultimately resigns because he thinks Odets is a fucking idiot -Stella Adler and Stanford Meisner were also part of the Group -THIS THEATRE REVOLUTIONIZED ACTING -Dissolved due to financial, emotional (communal living is ridiculous), and Hollywood pressures 3.3.16 Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) -Grew up in the rural Midwest; many of her plays take place in that same setting -Considered one of the first modernist US playwrights -Attended Drake University; started her career as a journalist before moving into fiction/playwriting -Worth noting that she is fully educated and privileged -Married George Cram Cook in 1913, moved to Greenwich Village -Abbey Theatre comes and tours the US; highly influence her writing -Co-founds Provincetown Players; writes 11 plays for them over time -Cook dies in 1924; she moves to Cape Cod -Directed the Midwest Play Bureau of the Federal Theatre Project (1936-38) -Won a Pulitzer’s Prize for Alison’s House in 1930 (about Emily Dickinson) Trifles is based on an actual murder case in Iowa that Glaspell covered between 1900-01 -Wrote several articles about it at the time, then wrote this play 15 years later -Murder: wife kills husband with an axe -August 8 , 1916: first performance at the Wharf Theatre -Glaspell played Mrs. Hale and Crammy Cook played Mr. Hale -Successfully integrates realism, symbolism, and expressionism -Innovative to build a plot around absent characters and highlight the universality of domestic space -Symbols: bird (independence/freedom, dies); singing; quilt; telephone line; cleaning her apron (keeping up appearances, etc)