Tony Award-winning playwright Edward Albee, Obie Award winner and founder of the Living Theatre Judith Malina, and director of the archives of La Mama Experimental Theater Ozzie Rodriguez, recently joined in a discussion with Village Voice theatre critic Michael Feingold at the Provincetown Playhouse. They spoke of the history of the theatre as well as the history of off-Broadway during the exciting years of the 1940s and 50s before taking questions from a rapt audience.
Albee’s description of the artistic life in Greenwich Village in the 1940s and 50s sums it up perfectly:
“It was a very exciting time in the arts in New York City in the late 1940, 50s. Everything was changing, everything was happening in the visual arts. Abstract expressionism in the 1950s had come in and all the painters had come down here and were doing wonderful paintings. The theatre was doing exciting work. The poets used to be at the tavern on Bleecker Street, the San Remo, all the poets would be there. We kept going to theater. Everyone was practicing exciting art, but nobody was famous, nobody knew who each other was, but we kept going to see each other’s work. We’d go see their work, hear the wonderful avant-garde recitals. The paperback book market had just come into existence so we could get all the avant-garde European works very cheaply. Nobody had any money to do anything, everybody worked terribly hard, and it was fucking exciting.”