The Provincetown Playhouse is an historic theatre at 133 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village 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. E. E. Cummings had his plays performed in the building. Bette Davis made her New York stage debut 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." Also in 2008 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. In the face of community opposition, NYU agreed to preserve just six percent of the old building: the walls containing the small theater in the southern corner of the building. However, during construction, behind construction barriers and invisible from the street, NYU tore down parts of the walls they promised to preserve, a fact revealed by GVSHP.
Chronology of the Provincetown Playhouse
1915-1916 Provincetown Players are formed
1918 The Provincetown Players move into 133 MacDougal Street
1918-1922 The Provincetown Players grow in popularity, garnering 1600 subscribers in the 1920-21 season.
1923-1929 The Provincetown Players are re-branded The Experimental Theatre, Inc.
1924 Paul Robeson’s kiss on the hand of white actress Mary Blair in Eugene O’Neill’s All God’s Chillun Got Wings is reported on the front page of many national newspapers, leading to protests outside the theatre.
1936-1939 The Federal Theatre Project utilized the Provincetown as a training institute for designers and teachers
1945-1950 The Light Opera Theatre Company produced short runs of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas for returning GI’s, youth, and adult audiences.
1950 The American Young People’s Theatre hosted a series of original productions for young audiences through the fall and holiday season.
1954-1955 The Opera Players and Opera ’55 produced two seasons of new works by up-and-coming composers.
1959 A festival of George Bernard Shaw plays are produced, featuring the American professional premiere of Buoyant Billions.
1964 Al Carmines’ Home Movies and Softly Consider the Nearness are transferred to The Provincetown for a modest run after a successful run at The Judson Poet’s Theatre.
1991-1992 The final professional season at The Provincetown featured performances by Tatum O’Neal, (A Terrible Beauty), Cynthia Nixon, and Lisa Gay Hamilton and direction by Terry Kinney, co-founder of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Servy-n-Bernice 4ever)
1998–Present NYU Steinhardt’s Programs in Educational Theatre and Vocal Performance host a variety of programming for the NYU students and the wider community including theatrical, musical, and opera productions, concerts, storytelling, Looking for Shakespeare, and New Plays for Young Audiences.
- "N.Y.U. Plan Threatens Historic Theater.". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
New York University’s proposal to demolish the historic Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village as part of its planned expansion over the next 25 years is meeting resistance from community leaders and scholars who say the building, where Eugene O’Neill’s plays were first produced, is an important site in American theater history.
- NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Facilities: Provincetown Playhouse
- New York Times, Rebuilt Theater Opening Amid Debate, December 10, 2010
- "N.Y.U. would drop curtain on O'Neill's playhouse". The Villager. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Re: Failure to Maintain Commitments re: Provincetown Playhouse Theater Renovation" (PDF). Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- ProvincetownPlayhouse website
- Provincetown Playhouse at IBDB
- Provincetown Playhouse info from the Works Progress Administration