The Provincetown Players (1915–1922) By Black, Cheryl
Founded in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1915 and transplanted to Greenwich Village in 1916, the Provincetown Players was one of the most influential theatrical organizations in American theater history. Their membership was a veritable who’s who of the era’s leading political and cultural revolutionaries, including its spiritus rector, socialist writer George Cram (Jig) Cook; postimpressionist artists William and Marguerite Zorach and Bror Nordfeldt; labor journalists John Reed and Mary Heaton Vorse; modernist poets Wallace Stevens, Alfred Kreymborg, Mina Loy, and Edna St Vincent Millay; New Stagecraft pioneers Robert Edmond Jones and Cleon Throckmorton; and more than fifty playwrights whose dramaturgical innovations defied contemporary critical description.
In addition to formal experimentation, Provincetown playwrights were noted for their frank treatment of such topical issues as racial, ethnic, and religious Otherness, class conflict, war, and changing gender and sexual mores. Their plays manifested the most current trends in the era’s intellectual discourse: Freudian and Jungian psychology; Nietzschean challenges to traditional morality; Havelock Ellis’s and Ellen Keys’ ideas on egalitarian sexual and marital relationships; the social theories of Karl Marx and Edward Carpenter; the feminism of Emma Goldman, Margaret Sanger, and Crystal Eastman; and the parenting techniques of Maria Montessori.