Institutionalizing Poet’s Theater: The Cambridge Poets’ Theatre in the 1950s

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2011

Project Description/Abstract

The beginnings of American poet’s theater coalesced in the period immediately following WWII, when rich, performance-oriented poetry and theater scenes came together on the makeshift stages of urban coffee houses, shared apartments, and underground theaters. One of the most important poet’s theater groups was the Cambridge Poets’ Theatre, founded by playwright and performer V. R. “Bunny” Lang and Beat poet Richard Eberhart in 1951. Its participants included such notable poetry and theater artists as Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Thornton Wilder, William Carlos Williams, Gregory Corso, Samuel Beckett, Dylan Thomas, and Sylvia Plath. And yet apart from a few pages in its participants’ memoirs, very little has been written about this important group. The CART summer grant will enable me to research and write a scholarly article on the Cambridge Poets’ Theatre that will comprise chapter two of my book-length critical history of American poet’s theater since WWII.

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