ONLINE ISSUE
no. 5

A Partial Index of the
American Theatre for Poets, Inc.
1961–1965

Venue
The New Bowery Theatre
4 St. Mark's Place

"By mid-February 1964 the New York Poets Theatre was back in action. We had prepared for months: chosen plays, arranged them in programs, and cast them, and Alan had gone into full swing right after New Years, raising money based on our nonprofit status. [...]

Alan found us a venue, the New Bowery Theatre on St. Marks Place off of Third Avenue, and we rented it for a four-month season, February through May. Unlike the East Tenth Street scene of 1961, this was a real theatre, with a hanging sign, and a stoop, entry and lobby and seats and a proscenium stage. [...]

We did the plays on weekends, mostly Friday and Saturday nights, and turned the week nights over to various other programs. Jonas Mekas' Cinematheque showed short experimental movies on Monday nights; and there was a night for new dance, and a night for new music (mostly taped, played on the new "synthesizers," or composed using random techniques). John McDowell organized these for a while and then for a time LeRoi ran a jazz series. On Sunday afternoons we had poetry readings, often in the midst of the set of one of the plays. If there was a "dark" night we used it to rehearse the plays, as not everyone could come to the afternoon rehearsals that we mainly depended on.

We used the place around the clock, and used every inch of the space. The lobby became a de facto art gallery, and we had a couple of art shows, though we had the problem that our audience, many of whom were on speed, lack a certain quality of discrimination and a couple of times made off with their favorite collage. There was very little moral sense in at least the fringe of this crowd. Things simply disappeared. We called it "knick-knacking" and mostly laughed it off, though when what was missing was a prop we needed that very night, or a serious painting or photo by a master artist, we took it a bit more seriously. [...]

We had a wide and varied audience altogether. In fact if our landlady had ever come off her high horse and stopped smelling the theatre curatin, even she might have found some of it impressive. Bankers, Broadway producers, an East European princess, and many patrons of the arts and gallery owners supported us and came to all the plays, as well as famous and not so famous musicians, painters and writers. A typical evening in the lobby [...] would have seen Larry Rivers, Morris Golde, Panna Grady, Cecil Taylor, Richard Lippold, Joan Mitchell, any number of dancers, poets, what-have-you hobnobbing and flirting as they waited for the lights to flicker. [...]

Checking out old flyers and programs, I see that all this happened in a shorter time than I imagined. No more than two months and the New Bowery Theatre was lost to us, a sign on the locked door saying "This Poets' Theatre Closed By Order of Police." -- Diane di Prima. Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years. New York: Viking, 2001.

Events
14 February-27 March 1964
One-act plays by Diane DiPrima, Frank O'Hara and Wallace Stevens
Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise
Murder Cake
Love's Labor, an eclogue
February-March 1964
Untitled Art Exhibit
Untitled Exhibit in Lobby
20 February 1964
An Evening of Sight and Sound
Tragic Jelly
Pulse
Pop #1
Boa Constrictor
Monologue from The Rose Tattoo
To Have Done with the Judgment of God
Production Slides of Jack Smith's "Normal Love"
27 February 1964
Sights and Sounds II
Animals
Bacchanale
Songs
Morning Raga with Yellow Chair
Monologue from Camino Real
Merce Cunningham Rehersal Film
Bhagavad-Gita Symphony, Chapter XI--Obligato Only
1 March 1964
Political Justice I
Poetry Readings
5 March 1964
Sights and Sounds III
Wind Music #177
Monologue from Blood Wedding
Like (A Romance)
Wotan's Wake
For Sergio
7 March 1964, Saturdays at midnight
Bread and Puppets Theatre
Two Kings, A Comedy and Tragedy with Puppets
8 March 1964, 3pm
Political Justice II
Poetry Readings
12 March 1964
Sights and Sounds IV
Make the, Noise
The End of Dawn
Amazing Grace (New Version)
Songs
Entrement
13 March 1964, opening, continuing Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
One-act plays by Diane DiPrima, LeRoi Jones and Frank O'Hara
The Eighth Ditch (from The System of Dante's Hell)
Murder Cake
Love's Labor, an eclogue
17 March 1964
Unidentified Film Program
Unidentified Films
19 March 1964
Sights and Sounds V: A Folk Concert
Doug & Victoria
Selected Readings of Humorous Negro Folklore
Folk Songs, Ballads & Bluegrass
Ballads & Blues, Pure & Lyrical
Blues & Blues
Copyright © 2019 Pastelegram. All Rights Reserved