Provincetown and the Birth of the American Theater

In 1915 two married couples vacationing in Provincetown wrote and performed original plays on the veranda of their ocean front cottage.  The American theater was never the same.  This unassuming performance was the beginning of the Provincetown Players, a theater company most well-known for launching the careers of Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning dramatists Eugene O’Neill and Susan Glaspell as well as for presenting works that not only experimented with expressionistic, futuristic, and surrealistic forms but also examined important political and social issues.  Today’s presentation will explore the immense and far-reaching impact of these early 20th century theater pioneers and detail how today’s most prominent theater artists owe much to those who wrote, directed, and performed in Provincetown.

Beth Wynstra teaches courses in American Drama, Acting, Modernism, and Rhetoric at Babson College. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater Studies from the University of California at San​ta Barbara and a certificate in Directing from the Yale School of Drama. Beth is working on a book manuscript tentatively titled “I Only Act a Part You’ve Created”: Marriage and Modernity on the American Stage which investigates the agency, persuasive tactics, and status of wife characters in the plays of Eugene O’Neill. She has written extensively on the life and plays of Eugene O’Neill and serves on the board of the Eugene O’Neill International Society. Beth regularly directs plays and musicals at Babson and is the Founding Artistic Director of The Empty Space Theater. From 2013 until 2015 Beth served as the first Faculty Director of the Sorenson Center for the Arts.

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