The Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project, according to press notes, "serves to fill a gap in theater scholarship about an innovative period in post WWII America by establishing a video archive featuring the artists who created Off-Broadway. In their own words, actors, directors, designers, producers, playwrights and theatre founders share their personal accounts of how Off-Broadway emerged."
The Oral History Project is under the leadership of project director Sally Plass and producer Casey Childs.
"I have been eager to launch this project for years," said Childs in a statement. "There are many opportunities for us to learn about the Off-Broadway movement in books and other print, but very few opportunities to hear the creators of Off-Broadway speak for themselves."
The project has already conducted close to 50 hours of interviews with 20 Off-Broadway leaders since June 2014. They include JoAnne Akalaitis (founder of Mabou Mines), B.H. Barry (fight director), Shami Chaikin (co-founder of The Open Theatre; sister of Joseph Chaikin), Tisa Chang (founder of the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre), Fyvush Finkel (actor and comedian from the Second Avenue Yiddish theatres and vaudeville), Richard Foreman (playwright, director and founder of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater), Arthur French (actor with the early Negro Ensemble Company), Wynn Handman (artistic director and co-founder of The American Place Theatre), Terese Hayden (founder of the Equity Library Theater and founder of The Players' Guide), Robert Kalfin (founder of the Chelsea Theater Center), Woodie King, Jr. (founder of the New Federal Theater), Judith Malina (actress and co-founder of the Living Theater), Peter Maloney (actor, director, playwright with the Open Theatre, the Atlantic and Lincoln Center Theatre), Robert Moss (founder of Playwrights Horizons) and Elizabeth Wilson (actress with the Public Theater and Circle in the Square Theatre).
Within the next three years, Primary Stages hopes to capture interviews with dozens of important figures in the Off-Broadway, Off Off-Broadway and alternative theatre movements in New York City, focusing on artists from both non-profit companies as well as notable commercial productions. Primary Stages hopes to eventually partner on the Primary Stages OBOH with a major university, library or foundation with the intention to create a website so these interviews can be accessed by future generations of audiences, artists and scholars. In the tradition of most oral history projects, these interviews will receive little editing. The interviews will run between two and three hours and are the subjects' opportunity to discuss their theatre, their art and themselves in their own words.
For additional information or to support the Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project, email [email protected].