ABOUT THE POETS THEATRE
First established in 1950, the Poets' Theatre staged plays by young poets and dramatists. Among those whose work was first performed by the PT are William Alfred, John Ashbery, Samuel Beckett, Richard Eberhart, Paul Goodman, Edward Gorey, Donald Hall, V.R. Lang, Alison Lurie, Archibald Macleish, Mary Manning, James Merrill, Howard Moss, Frank O'Hara, Dylan Thomas and Richard Wilbur. Thornton Wilder and William Carlos Williams served on the PT Board at its inception. Both Alison Lurie and Nora Sayre have published memoirs of those early days of the Poets' Theatre. The theatre survived in one form or another until 1968 when the small building it occupied on Palmer Street in Cambridge burned down. For nearly two decades it remained dormant.
Then on the 28th and 29th of October, 1986, a two-evening celebration was held in the Agassiz Theatre in Cambridge in memory of the Poets' Theatre. Edward Gorey, who designed the poster, announced the event as a nostalgic "wake." But the occasion turned out to be something of an "awakening." A year later on September 24, 1987, a group of young and old members of the Poets' Theatre offered, under the direction of Andreas Teuber, An Entertainment at the Kennedy Library at Columbia Point. The evening included original dramatic work, poetry and song and signalled the beginning of a new era.
Many of the world's most influential writers have presented their work and performed in PT productions, among them: William Alfred, Roger Angell, Aharon Appelfeld, John Ashbery, Russell Baker, Frank Bidart, Paul Bowles, Joseph Brodsky (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), Amy Clampitt, Kenward Elmslie, Robert Giroux, Donald Hall, Seamus Heaney (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), Anthony Hecht, John Hersey, Kenneth Koch, James Merrill, Robert Pinsky (Poet Laureate), Reynolds Price, Christopher Ricks, Phillip Roth, Lloyd Schwartz, John Updike, Derek Walcott (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), Rosanna Warren, and Richard Wilbur (winner of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry).
Since its revival, many of this country's leading actors have also appeared in PT performances, among them, Claire Bloom, William Cain, Stockard Channing, Brenda Currin, Blythe Danner, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Spalding Gray, Stephen Hanan, Julie Harris, John Heard, Cherry Jones, Richard Jordan, Jerome Kilty, Bill Murray, Christopher Reeve, Wallace Shawn, Anne Scurria, Sandra Shipley, Lois Smith, Kathryn Walker, Sam Waterston, Jack Willis, Debra Winger, and Irene Worth.
The PT has presented fourteen world premieres, Mary Manning's "Go Lovely Rose," Dostoyevsky's "My Uncle's Dream," translated and adapted by Vlada Petric and Robert Evans, James Merrill's "An Evening at Sandover," John Hersey's "Blues," Erica Funkhauser's "The Long Haul," Aharon Appelfeld's "Locked In," Amy Clampitt's "Mad with Joy," Samuel Beckett's "Stirrings Still," Kenward Elmslie's "26 Bars," Lloyd Schwartz's "These People," Jerome Kilty's "About To Begin," and "An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum," "Voices from Our Past," and "Mozart's Letters" by Andreas Teuber. Seven PT productions have been recorded by WGBH Radio for Public Broadcast and four have been videotaped by Continental Cablevision and broadacast locally. Features on the PT's revival have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, The Christian Science Monitor, The South Shore Folio, and Interview Magazine.
The PT has offices at The Center for Literary Studies in Cambridge and stages its productions at a number of different venues. Besides the J.F. K. Library and Agassiz Theatre, the PT has performed at the Loeb Drama Center, the Hasty Pudding Theatre, and in Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. The PT has also staged productions at the Katherine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard and at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA.