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Off-Off-Broadway Explosion: How Provocative Playwrights of the 1960's Ignited a New American Theater

Off-Off-Broadway Explosion: How Provocative Playwrights of the 1960's Ignited a New American Theater
Your Price: $35.00 CDN
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Author: David Crespy, Foreword by Edward Albee
Publisher: Back Stage Books
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 192
Pub. Date: 2003
ISBN-10: 0823088324
ISBN-13: 9780823088324

About the Book:

HARD TO FIND BOOK, only a very limited number of copies are still available.

The Off-Off-Broadway movement of the 1960s remains one of the most dynamic periods in the history of American theatre. The term "Off-Off Broadway" was coined by a Village Voice theater editor in 1960 when the paper started doing listings for downtown avant-garde performance spaces like Caffe Cino, whose eight foot by eight foot stage is now regarded as the birthplace of the Off-Off Broadway movement and one of the first safe havens for LGBT artists to perform and write about their experiences without being ostracized.

In December of 1958, retired dancer Joe Cino (pronounced chino) opened a one-room coffee house on Cornelia Street in New York's Greenwich Village. From the start, Caffe Cino featured poets reading their work and actors performing scenes on a make-shift small platform. By 1960, however, entire plays were being performed on the tiny stage at the now legendary coffee house theatre, with the dialogue just audible over the steaming espresso machine. Patrons were invited to watch new American plays by the likes of Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, and John Guare. Though no one knew it at the time, the proprietor Joe Cino had given birth to perhaps the most influential movement in twentieth century theatre: Off-Off-Broadway. Experimental playwrights were given the space to try out new performances, and many who got their start there went on to win some of the highest awards in theatre, film and television.

Off-Off-Broadway Explosion offers the first-ever narrative account of this important fringe theatre movement that started in 1960s New York and eventually spread across America. Filled with one-on-one interviews and entertaining anecdotes, author and scholar David Crespy explores the colourful backstage stories and captivating history of the unusual venues and legendary personalities of the Greenwich Village visionaries who showcased experimental work not welcome on the commercial stage.

You will discover intimate accounts of the innovative counterculture playwrights who transformed the New York stage, such as Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones), Jean-Claude van Itallie, and many other artists whose legacy is still felt within theatre halls today. You will learn about the Greenwich Village visionaries who allowed emerging playwrights to showcase experimental works that could be produced simply in the back rooms of coffee shops and the basements of churches: such as Joseph "Joe" Cino, the wildly eccentric Italian-American café-owner who sired Caffe Cino, the site that gave birth to off-off Broadway theatre, where Harvey Keitel, Al Pacino, Fred Willard, and Bernadette Peters, started their careers; and Al Carmines, the radical minister of Judson Memorial Church, whose Judson Poets' Theater was known for the avant-garde musicals conceived by the pastor himself. In the East Village it was La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (La MaMa E.T.C.) founded by Ellen Stewart, an African-American theatre director, producer, and fashion designer, where playwrights like Rochelle Owens, Paul Foster, Leonard Melfi, and the director Tom O’Horgan reigned.

Finally, a special chapter, "Your Own Off-Off-Broadway," advises today's playwrights and theatre artists how give voice to their own work and find progressive audiences to appreciate it.

Playwrights Discussed:

• Edward Albee
• Sam Shepard
• Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones)
• Landford Wilson
• Maria Irene Fornes
• Jean-Claude van Itallie
• Robert Patrick
• Megan Terry
• Rochelle Owens
• Doric Wilson
• and many others
• Documents the origins of innovative Off-Off-Broadway plays and their writers
• Includes archival, rarely seen photos
• Personal interviews with leading playwrights
• Applicable advice for theatre groups in any city

What people say:

"David Crespy's account of Off-Off Broadway's roots in New York City is a welcome addition to a growing body of scholarship on this vibrant period in American theatre history." — Back Stage Books

"This is, to my knowledge, the first book to thoroughly and systematically examine perhaps the most important movement in twentieth-century American theater. As such it is invaluable ... read it with gratitude; be illuminated and have, in your reading, the next-best thing to having been there, as some of us were fortunate enough to have been." — Edward Albee, from the foreword

About the Author:

David A. Crespy is a professor of playwriting, acting, and dramatic literature at the University of Missouri. He founded MU's Writing for Performance program and serves as its co-director. He is the founding Artistic Director of MU's Missouri Playwrights Workshop, and he is president of the Edward Albee Society.