The Neighborhood Playhouse

   In 1915, Alice and Irene Lewisohn built the Neighborhood Playhouse on New York's Grand Street in tandem with the Henry Street Settlement House, which tended to the needs of the neighborhood's immigrant population. Its goal, like those of the Provincetown Players and the Washington Square Players, was to establish a repertory theatre free of commercial pressures. The Neighborhood Playhouse began as an amateur operation, but by 1920 it was fully professional and presented a diverse range of ethnic and folk works, including The Little Clay Cart (1924) and The Dybbuk (1926), as well as a 14th-century French mystery play, a Japanese Noh drama, Celtic dances, a Norse fairy tale, and a medieval interlude, as well as modernist works including John Galsworthy's The Mob (1920), Eugene O'Neill's The First Man (1922), and James Joyce's Exiles (1924). Popular entertainments were also staged, and the Playhouse found particular success with five annual editions of their musical revue, The Grand Street Follies. The troupe disbanded in 1927, but the Lewisohns and Rita Wallach Morgenthau established a theatre school there in 1928, and it continues to the present. Among its faculty, Sanford Meisner,* who had been a member of The Group Theatre,* emerged as the most important, teaching techniques based on the acting innovations of Konstantin Stanislavski and the Moscow Art Theatre. Meisner taught there from 1935 to 1990.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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