Greenwich Village Theater in the 1960s


“… In the 1950s, the West Village and, later, the newly designated, edgier East Village (rebranded from the northern part of the Lower East Side around 1964) became the cradle of New York’s Beat generation, with its new, raw, and mold-breaking style of poetry and writing; jazz, heard in Village night clubs and coffeehouses; challenging forms of painting and art such as Abstract Expressionism, especially ‘action painting’ (which was an impetus for the Happening) as exemplified by Jackson Pollock, a Village resident; and the revolutionary politics preached by its denizens and frequent visitors. With untried, non-commercial, or experimental plays or productions, using then-unknown talent and shoe-string budgets, Off-Broadway became an artistic magnet. … Such companies as the Living Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival, Roundabout Theatre Company (1965), Chelsea Theatre Center (1965), Negro Ensemble Company (1967), and Circle Repertory (1969, as the Circle Theater Company), many of which started Off-Off-Broadway, presented original, failed commercial, or neglected plays. … In response to the Eisenhower years, particularly McCarthyism and the HUAC hearings; the rise of issues like the war in Vietnam, nuclear-weapons development, civil and equal rights for African Americans and women (and, later, Latinos and gays); and proliferating consumerism, the Beat impulse evolved into the angrier and more activist ’60s. In the early 1960s, the Village theater and art scene was just developing into the exciting, vibrant, and multi-cultural world that it became known as by the end of the decade. Folk and rock music also came to the Village in the early part of the decade, and bars and clubs in the Village like the Village Vanguard, the Village Gate, Googies, the Night Owl Cafe, the Fat Black Pussycat, and too many more to name became venues for singers, musicians, songwriters, and poets like Bob Dylan, Dave Von Ronk, Tim Hardin, Joan Baez, Rod McKuen, James Baldwin, and Allen Ginsberg. With this upheaval came the birth of a new alternative theater centered in the Village, inspired strongly by the writings of Antonin Artaud and the work of European dramatists: Off-Off-Broadway (a label supposedly devised by Village Voice reviewer Jerry Tallmer). …”
Rick On Theater (part 1), (part 2)
Vanity Fair: The Decline (and Rise) of the Cinema Revival House


Bleecker Street Cinema (rear) and Garrick Cinema (foreground) in 1967.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Civil Rights Mov., Counterculture, Happenings, Harlem, Jack Kerouac, Movie, Music, Poetry, Street theater, The Fugs, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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