ONLINE ISSUE
no. 5

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

Venue
American Arts Project
145 Bleecker Street

"We had just made arrangements to take a space, were about to sign a lease, and were there cleaning up, when an Inspector appeared as if on cue, and gave us a list of what we would have to do to get permission to open. It was the last straw. Alan decided to try an outflanking maneuver.

There are laws on the books in New York that exist to cover "neighborhood clubs:" those usually ethnic, sometimes shady, storefronts with "Sons of Romania" or some such painted on the curtained window. These laws governing private clubs allowed members to hold all kinds of events for themselves and their families, without having to obey the stringent rules governing theatres and other "public" meeting places. The salient points were: (1) that you had to have a book with the members' names in it; (2) that the members be issued some kind of identification; and (3) that they pay dues of some kind. Becoming a member and paying dues could not take place at the club (the space where the events occurred).

We promptly became the American Arts Project. Membership cost a dollar a year, and entitled you to go to all programs free. As a club we couldn't charge members for events, but we could take donations. We printed a couple of thousand little green membership cards, and set out to publicize the AAP and find it a home.

This time our hands weren't tied by the rules and regulations governing theatres, and we quickly rented a loft space in the Village, on Bleecker Street, right over Gerde's Folk City. It was just a big, bare room, which Alan and George Herms (who had joined us) found most exciting. A large number of extra-thick four-by-eight plywood sheets outfitted with pipe fittings on their undersides, and a great number of pipes cut to various lengths and threaded to the fittings gave us a flexible and workable stage. We could put the plywood together at one height, or raise parts of the "stage" to different heights; have an island in the middle of the audience, stage all around teh edges of the room, whatever suited the piece we were doing.

Of necessity the stage lights were on poles, and there were fewer of them than in our "real" theatres, though some dramatic effects could be achieved. Given the vagaries of staging and stage managing, it seemed more sensible with this arrangement to do just one play at a time. We made up for the shortness of the programs, though: the productions were the most elaborate and beautiful we would ever come up with, and we added an "opener" to each show.

American Arts Project went on for two months, and we did one play each month. [...] It was very interesting to me that American Arts Project, where we never charged admission if you had your one-dollar-a-year membership card, was the only theatre we ever ran that broke even." -- Diane di Prima. Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years. New York: Viking, 2001.

Membership Card, American Arts Project, 1964
Membership Card, American Arts Project, 1964
Membership Form, American Arts Project, 1964
Events
14 May 1964
Reading by Robert Duncan
Unidentified Poetry
May 1964
West Coast Filmmakers Festival
Unidentified Film by Paul Beattie
Unidentified Film by Bob [?Branahan]
Unidentified Film by Dean Stockwell
Unidentified Film by Wallace Berman
Mondays in May
Unidentified Dance Concerts
Unidentified Dance Performances
Sundays at 3 P.M.
Sunday Services
Political Justice
Unidentified Poetry Readings
Readings of Assorted Magical and Joyous Texts
May 1964
A Happening by Robert Morris
Unidentified Happening
May 1964
Andy Warhol FIlms
Unidentified Films by Andy Warhol
May 1964
Happening Films
Unidentified Films by Claes Oldenburg
22-31 May; 5-7, 11-13, 27 June; 3 July 1964
Film by Red Grooms and Rudy Burckhardt and a Play by Kenneth Koch
Shoot the Moon
Guinevere, or the Death of the Kangaroo
22 May 1964
Shopping and Waiting by James Schuyler
Shopping and Waiting
1-2 June 1964
8 Theater Works by Schmidt Obaldia Blossom Tropp (Dance, Film, Slides, Stage Plays)
Interior 1 & 2
A Man and His Dog
Box Interlude
The Guillotine Mazurka
Black Traveler
Poem for the Theater #6
Wednesdays at midnight beginning 1 June 1964
Readings by Diane DiPrima
Diane DiPrima reading from various joyful and/or magical texts
8-10 June 1964
Ford Foundation Award Winners Night
Unidentified Film by Kenneth Anger
Unidentified Film by Stan Brakhage
Unidentified Film by Bruce Conner
Unidentified Film by Stan Vanderbeek
18 June 1964
Kirby Doyle reads from his works
Angel Faint
Happiness Bastard
19-21, 26, 28 June; 5 July 1964
Taped Reading by Antonin Artaud and a Play by Michael McClure
To Have Done with the Judgment of God
The Blossom, or Billy the Kid
29 June - 1 July 1964
Stan Brakhage Film Festival
Unidentified Films
4 July 1964
A Toast to Frankie Francine
Unidentified
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