Birth of Modern American Theatre

By | Feb 12, 2017

100 years ago American Theatre was much different than it is today. It was still in the throngs of the late 19th century which saw very few original plays but instead produced long runs of a single, popular plays that popular performers took on tour.

In the summer 1916 Eugene O’Neill found himself in Provincetown with a trunk full of plays. Ironically O’Neill’s father James O’Neill was one of those tour performers.

It was the second season for the group of amateurs who became the Provincetown Players.

A couple of O’Neill’s sea plays, most notable Bound East for Cardiff was produced by the players that summer.

In the Fall the Proviincetown Players came to New York and presented nine “bills” between November and March, including plays by O’Neill.

With O’Neill being called the Father of Modern American Theatre, it’s easy to say that it was born 100 years ago.

Barbara Gelb, who, with her husband, Arthur Gelb, produced the first full-scale biography of the playwright Eugene O’Neill, then followed it decades later with two volumes that reconsidered his life, died on February 9, 2017. She was 91. Her husband died on May 20, 2014.


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