Jefe's House

Tag: bevan & trzcinski

Theatre History Needs You

by on Nov.19, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

I loved Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia from the moment I walked into the 1911 lobby of this former acting school turned theatre back in fall, 2008.  My first thought was, nice place but is there a ghost? Actors are highly superstitious people, and any good old theatre has a requisite benevolent ghost on staff.  I was delighted to learn that Plays & Players is blessed with not just 1 ghost but 3 ghosts.

I also love history; especially US history and especially film and theatre history, so I was naturally drawn to this historic institution first as a fan, then as a board member and now as one of its 3 current  playwrights-in-residence along with Jeremy Gable and Brian Grace-Duff.  Plays & Players has an illustrious history, including bringing the first works of Susan Glaspell (Trifles) and one Eugene O’Neill (Before Breakfast) to Philadelphia back in the 19-teens.  Bevan & Trzcinski’s Stalag 17, a comic drama set in a German POW camp,  premiered here in 1949 before moving to Broadway and then becoming a hit Hollywood film, and then becoming the inspiration for 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (yep).   Philly native Kevin Bacon also performed one of his earliest roles on this stage back in the 1970s.

Today another facet of Plays & Players that I love is its commitment to producing 1 world-premiere by a Philadelphia playwright every season along with the classics and modern classics you’d expect. This current season features the hit Pardon My Invasion by local playwright Joy Cutler (it got raves) coupled with upcoming hits by August Wilson (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone) and Tom Stoppard (Travesties).

Where was I? Oh right, Plays & Players turns 100 years old this season.  We’ve gotten a matching grant of $10,000 from the Wyncote Foundation.  Matching grant means — you got it — we have to match it in order to get it. So we need to come up with $10K in a hurry.  Rather than pulling an NPR and demanding “any amount, even as little as $50″ like they do during their elitist pledge drives, which makes you want to permanently switch to the nearest corporate Top 40 station for your morning drive, we figure we’ll just ask 1000 people to each give us just 10 bucks, one time.  That’s why this fundraising campaign is called 10 for 100. That’s not $10 a year for 100 years or anything like that. We just want $10 from you.  Right now.

You can easily and quickly donate your $10 by going to this donation page.

Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving,

Jeffrey Stanley

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Drinks at Quig’s Are On Me

by on Oct.15, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Plays & Players Theatre on 17th and Delancey Streets in Philadelphia, PA.

Fresh on the heels of a highly successful Philly Fringe show I am delighted, surprised,  and thrilled to have been named one of Philadelphia’s three 2011-12 PDC@Plays & Players Playwrights-in-Residence.

The Philadelphia Dramatists Center (PDC) is a membership community of playwrights, collaborating artists and audience members dedicated to creating and nurturing new work.  PDC develops resources, stimulates creative partnerships and participates in the ongoing national dialogue about how and why theater is created.

The historic Plays & Players Theatre turns 100 this year. It  began in 1911 as a private social club, similar to the Players Club in Manhattan, devoted to expanding and developing new theater experiences for and by its wealthy membership. The first President, actress Maud Skinner, was the wife of the famed American actor Otis Skinner.  The Plays & Players Theatre building on 17th and Delancey, then called the “Little Theatre of Philadelphia,” first opened its shows to the public in 1913 with a mission to produce “American plays of ideas.” And they meant it.   Plays & Players sought out and produced cutting edge work by America’s newest playwrights including Philadelphia premieres in 1916 and 1919 of  some of the earliest plays by Eugene O’Neill (Before Breakfast) and Susan Glaspell (Suppressed Desires and Trifles), the world premiere in 1949 of Bevan & Trzcinski’s acclaimed Stalag 17 before it moved to Broadway, and an early performance by actor Kevin Bacon in 1974.  Once an exclusive club, Plays & Players has grown over the years into a professional quality theatre devoted to supporting established and emerging Philadelphia artists in practicing and performing their crafts.

I know what you’re wondering: is it haunted? Finding out will be my first order of business.  I am told that many of the bar staff who work on the 3rd floor in the members-only Quig’s Pub have spotted the ghost of deceased longtime bartender Leon passing through the room on occasion, then there’s the oft-spotted ghost of a little boy standing on the mainstage, and others insist the ghost of Maud Skinner haunts one of the dressing rooms. We shall see…

Here too is a terrific video tour of Plays & Players made by mysterious stranger Lance Davis last month.

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