The American Place Theatre

The American Place Theatre

The American Place Theatre was founded in 1963 by Wynn Handman, Sidney Lanier, and Michael Tolan at St. Clement's Church, far west on 46th Street in New York City and was incorporated as a not-for-profit theatre in that year. Tennessee Williams and Myrna Loy were two of the original Board members. The first full production was Robert Lowell's theatre trilogy masterpiece, "The Old Glory", in November 1964.

In addition to poet Robert Lowell, The American Place Theatre has produced and developed the first plays of outstanding writers from other literary forms including Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Paul Goodman, H.L. Mencken, Joyce Carol Oates, S.J. Perelman, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, May Swenson, and Robert Penn Warren.

Significant playwrights have been nurtured and, in many cases, initially produced at The American Place, such as:
* Sam Shepard (8 plays including one co-authored with Joseph Chaikin)
* Ronald Ribman (6)
* Steve Tesich (6)
* Maria Irene Fornes (4 including one produced as part of The Women’s Project)
* Ed Bullins (5)
* Philip Hayes Dean (3)
* William Hauptman (3)
* Jonathan Reynolds (4)
* William Alfred
* Emily Mann
* Richard Nelson
* Frank Chin, the first Asian American to have plays produced by a mainstream New York company (The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon )

Also, major attention has been brought to unusual contemporary actor/writers such as Eric Bogosian, Bill Irwin, John Leguizamo, Aasif Mandvi, and Dael Orlandersmith.

The American Place Theatre played an important role in the emerging African-American theatre beginning in the early 1960’s by producing the first productions of plays by Michael Bradford, Ed Bullins, Kia Corthron, James de Jongh, Joseph Edward, Lonne Elder III, Phillip Hayes Dean, Elaine Jackson, Alonzo D. Lamont Jr., Ron Milner, Matt Robinson, Charlie L. Russell, and Vincent Smith.

Its American Humorists’ Series has transferred from the page to live performance the work of outstanding humorous writers, among them George Ade, Robert Benchley, Roy Blount Jr., A. Whitney Brown, Jules Feiffer, Bruce Jay Friedman, Cynthia Heimel, Dorothy Parker, Roger Rosenblatt, Damon Runyon, Jean Shepherd, James Thurber, and Calvin Trillin.

In 1978, The Women’s Project, directed by Julia Miles, was designed to encourage, develop, and produce women playwrights and directors. After nine years of producing many groundbreaking works at The American Place Theatre, the project has grown into a separate entity.

Actors for whom The American Place Theatre has been a launching pad include Mary Alice, Ellen Barkin, Roscoe Lee Browne, Kathleen Chalfant, Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Sandy Duncan, Morgan Freeman, Richard Gere, Joel Grey, Dustin Hoffman, Frank Langella, Mary MacDonnell, Zakes Mokae, Howard Rollins, John Spencer, Ralph Waite, Sam Waterson, and Sigourney Weaver.

It has received multiple grants from the Carnegie Corporation, an organization that has supported more than 550 New York City arts and social service institutions since its inception in 2002, and which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. [cite web| url=| title=New York Times: City Groups Get Bloomberg Gift of $20 Million Retrieved on September 4, 2007]


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