Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players (Hardcover)

Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players By Jeffery Kennedy Cover Image

Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players (Hardcover)


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A comprehensive history of the Provincetown Players and their influence on modern American theatre
The Provincetown Players created a revolution in American theatre, making room for truly modern approaches to playwriting, stage production, and performance unlike anything that characterized the commercial theatre of the early twentieth century. In Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players, Jeffery Kennedy gives readers the unabridged story in a meticulously researched and comprehensive narrative that sheds new light on the history of the Provincetown Players. This study draws on many new sources that have only become available in the last three decades; this new material modifies, refutes, and enhances many aspects of previous studies.

At the center of the study is an extensive account of the career of George Cram Cook, the Players’ leader and artistic conscience, as well as one of the most significant facilitators of modernist writing in early twentieth-century American literature and theatre. It traces Cook’s mission of “cultural patriotism,” which drove him toward creating a uniquely American identity in theatre. Kennedy also focuses on the group of friends he calls the “Regulars,” perhaps the most radical collection of minds in America at the time; they encouraged Cook to launch the Players in Provincetown in the summer of 1915 and instigated the move to New York City in fall 1916.

Kennedy has paid particular attention to the many legends connected to the group (such as the “discovery” of Eugene O’Neill), and also adds to the biographical record of the Players’ forty-seven playwrights, including Susan Glaspell, Neith Boyce, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Floyd Dell, Rita Wellman, Mike Gold, Djuna Barnes, and John Reed. Kennedy also examines other fascinating artistic, literary, and historical personalities who crossed the Players’ paths, including Emma Goldman, Charles Demuth, Berenice Abbott, Sophie Treadwell, Theodore Dreiser, Claudette Colbert, and Charlie Chaplin. Kennedy highlights the revolutionary nature of those living in bohemian Greenwich Village who were at the heart of the Players and the America they were responding to in their plays.
Jeffery Kennedy is associate professor of interdisciplinary arts and performance at Arizona State University. He is author of numerous journal articles and book chapters on American theater history, with a strong focus on Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell, and the Provincetown Players.
Product Details ISBN: 9780817321406
ISBN-10: 0817321403
Publisher: University Alabama Press
Publication Date: January 24th, 2023
Pages: 640
Language: English
“In Staging America, Jeffery Kennedy skillfully interweaves firsthand accounts, contemporary reviews, plot summaries (often of lost or unpublished plays), and critical and biographical accounts to produce the fullest account we are ever likely to have of the frequently turbulent history of this group, which, in its seven years, permanently changed the direction of the American theatre. Literature students and scholars and theatre practitioners will be mining Kennedy’s highly readable authoritative account for years to come.”
—Jackson R. Bryer, coeditor of Selected Letters of Eugene O'Neill

“With his meticulously researched Staging America, Jeff Kennedy has established himself as the leading authority on the Provincetown Players. This book offers considerable new information and insights regarding the individuals involved with the company, influences on the company, the plays they produced, and the critical response to those plays, including Kennedy’s discovery of a number of “lost” plays. I expect that Staging America is going to generate significant new scholarship on the Players, plays, and playwrights as well as other individuals and events that surface within this remarkable account of a remarkable moment in America’s social and cultural life.”
—Cheryl Black, author of The Women of Provincetown, 1915–1922

“Jeffery Kennedy’s Staging America, a major event for theatre studies worldwide, is a magisterial chronical of George Cram Cook’s leadership of the Provincetown Players—‘a little theater group’ orchestrated by the uniquely inspiring Cook, a Midwestern dreamer who was, without question, directly responsible for the birth of modern American drama.”
—Robert M. Dowling, author of Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts