Provincetown Theatre Group, Facing Protest, Tacks "New" to Their Name

News   Provincetown Theatre Group, Facing Protest, Tacks "New" to Their Name Don't mess with hallowed local history.

That was the message two Provincetown, Massachusetts, theatre companies heard loud and clear recently when they decided to merge under the proposed new name The Provincetown Players. That title is not exactly new, of course. It was the name of the famed, if short-lived, troupe that gave the world Eugene O'Neill roughly 90 years ago. Local historians and artists were not happy about the presumption of the contemporary thesps—the Provincetown Theater Company, a 42-year-old community troupe, and the decade-old Equity outfit, the Provincetown Repertory Theater—in assuming such a weighted moniker. The boards of the two organizations bowed to local will and amended their name to read the New Provincetown Players. "We passed a motion that the word 'new' is integral to our name," said Howard Burchman, president of the Provincetown Theater Company, according to the New York Times. "So in case those people are confused and think we're Eugene O'Neill and Susan Glaspell, we've let them know that we are not."

Though the original Provincetown Players flourished at the tip of Cape Cod for a mere two summers, the artistic waves they stirred up rippled through the 20th century. The bohemian outfit of American actors and playwrights was founded in 1915 by the mercurial, Greek theatre-revering George Cram Cook and his playwright wife Susan Glaspell. The next summer, they produced their greatest effect through the production of Bound East for Cardiff, a one-act by a local beachcomber with literary ambitions named Eugene O'Neill. The work was famously staged on a foggy night on Lewis Wharf. The next year, the group moved to Greenwich Village.