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.