All you need is a half-acre and a dream. And $2.5 million.
That's the plan for Massachusetts' Provincetown Repertory Theatre, which just signed a 50-year lease for a half-acre lot, on which will be built a 295-seat theatre. According to Marilyn Miller's July 24 story in the Provincetown newspaper, The Advocate, $1 million has been pledged towards the $2.5 million project.
J. Anton Schiffenhaus, chairman of the Rep's board of directors, was quoted as saying, "We're not taking any money until our plans are further developed, which is the prudent way to go about this." The theatre is to be built on the grounds of the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Monument. a landmark in the artists' colony at the remote tip of Cape Cod.
Provincetown Rep artistic director Ken Hoyt said, "I'm the happiest man alive." He should be: he began the theatre company in 1994 with four people and a dream of building a theatrical home in a place some call the birthplace of the American theatre (because Eugene O'Neill had his first play staged in the village by the Provincetown Players).
Buying into the dream was director and O'Neill expert, Jose Quintero, who met with Hoyt in 1996 and got excited about the new company. Quintero ended up directing O'Neill plays at the Rep last year, and Jason Robards signed on board as co-chair of the theatre's capital fund. Only three years later, the company has blossomed to 18, all under Equity contract. That said, part of the capital fund will have to go to affordable housing for guest artists. Schiffenhaus told the Advocate, "Ken [Hoyt] has two outstanding abilities. One is to appeal to people like Quintero and Edward Albee and get them to commit to come here. The other is his uncanny ability to pick actors and works that are quite good."
Under the proposed plan, Hoyt hopes the new space can open its doors in 1999, with the Rep playing from May to October, and the 34-year-old Provincetown Theatre Company using the space the other six months.
Hoyt told Playbill On-Line he's trying to proceed "really cautiously" with the project and not get carried away with exuberance: "We doubled our subscriptions this year, but the numbers aren't where we need to be. I mean, we're in a 110-seat space [a gallery in the Museum] now and it's not full every night. We want to make sure we can fill the seats, not just build the theatre."
"People in Provincetown love to dream and talk about the wonderful things that can happen," continued Hoyt, "but making them happen is another thing, especially since people are out of the habit of going to the theatre in Provincetown. Still, we're really encouraged right now. We love our current space but it's makeshift. We want a space meant for theatrical performances. A place to rehearse that encourages a decent rehearsal. Also a space constructed for performance, with a proper backstage area. I believe you can do theatre anywhere -- but you shouldn't have to!"
Asked to name his wish list for the first play to go into the new space, Hoyt answered, "I would want it to be a show by O'Neill. I can't think of a better way to inaugurate a Provincetown Theatre."
Legendary director Quintero will return to PRT this season to stage Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, Aug. 29-Sept. 14.
Set in a New England boarding school, The Children's Hour is Hellman's first and most controversial play. The poignant and explosive classic examines the tragic effects of prejudice triggered by a child's accusation that two of her female teachers are lovers.
In the 1950's Quintero gained prominence by directing major revivals of the works of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. O'Neill's widow was so impressed with Quintero's staging of The Iceman Cometh, she gave him the rights to direct the world premiere of Long Day's Journey Into Night. Quintero also is scheduled to direct O'Neill's A Touch Of The Poet, which he directed the world premiere of in 1977, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 1998.
Also on tap for PRT's third season are Edward Albee's Box, The Sandbox and Finding The Sun, grouped together under the title, "Sand." Glyn O'Malley directs these one-acts, July 17-Aug 3. Patricia Kilgarriff, Eric Burnat, Alison Crowley, William Devaney, Michael Holland, Hoyt, Michael Mahon, Kim McGreal, Lynda Robinson and Marc Wolf appear in the ensemble production.
Lonely Planet follows, directed by Seth Barrish, founder of the Barrow Group, which staged Steven Dietz's two-man drama at the Barrow Group Off-Broadway. This tale of two gay men (Marc Wolf, Jerry O'Donnell) in a map store runs Aug. 12-24.
For reservations or more information (508) 487-0600 or refer to The Provincetown Repertory Theatre in the summer stock listings of Playbill On-Line.