Sunday, 7 December 2008


The Cherry Lane Theatre, located at 38 Commerce Street (L-shaped St. between Barrow St and 7th Avenue), is NYC's oldest, continuously running off-Broadway theater. It was built as a farm silo in 1817, and also served as a tobacco warehouse and box factory before Edna St. Vincent Millay and other members of the Provincetown Players converted the structure into a theater they christened the Cherry Lane Theater. It opened on March 24, 1924, with the play "The Man Who Ate the Popomack". The Living Theater, Theater of the Absurd, and the Downtown Theater all took root here, and it soon developed a reputation as a place where aspiring playwrights and emerging voices could showcase their work.

A staggering succession of plays have streamed out of this small theater, including the works of such literary luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O'Neill, W.H. Auden, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, and Joe Orton to name but a few. Playhouse Productions have featured an equally illustrious group of actors and directors including John Malkovich, Barbara Streisland, Gene Hackman, Harvey Keitel, Jerry Stiller, Burl Ives, James Broderick, Tom Bosley (who also worked in the theater's box office), Bob Dylan, Dennis Quaid and Joan Cusack, again only mentioning a few.

A 2008 production of "The American Dream" by Edward Albee

In 1996, Artistic Director Angelina Fiordellisi revitalised the Cherry Lane Theater and within a year founded a resident non-profit company. Her aim is to "sustain a community of playwrights and supporting artists, both seasoned and new, who provide a social mirror for a diverse, multigenerational audience with their work, much of it experimental in nature."
Undoubtedly, the Cherry Lane Theater is a landmark in Greenwich Village's rich and varied cultural landscape.

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