the theaters located on or near Broadway in New York City. Broadway theaters evolved at the turn of the 20th century on the basis of private enterprise. They are characterized by purely commercial aims, by disregard for artistic and social objectives, and by the “star system.” Such theaters have neither resident acting companies nor changing repertoires; they present individual plays for long engagements. The establishment of Broadway theaters marked the end of the traditional theater system in New York and the entire USA.
In answer to the commercialism of Broadway theaters and the entertaining nature of Broadway plays, the little theater movement developed between the second and fourth decades of the 20th century. The little theaters set artistic and social objectives and provided opportunities for aspiring authors, stage directors, and actors. After World War II, little theaters were called off-Broadway theaters. They continued to stress the importance of establishing resident companies and changing repertoires and of staging plays by aspiring playwrights, including the first works of E. Albee.
As off-Broadway theaters were gradually bought out by commercial theater managers, the off off-Broadway theater movement came about in the 1960’s. Some off off-Broadway theaters were associated with the new left movement. Many figures in this trend renounce the psychological theater and turn to the experience of the puppet theater, the masque, and the theater of cruelty. Striving for innovation, they often engage in extreme experiments that shock their audiences; however, their basic goal is to strengthen the theater’s role in the social struggle. The leading off off-Broadway theaters are the Living Theater (directors J. Beck and J. Malina), the Bread and Puppet Theater (director P. Schumann), and the Performance Group (director R. Schechner, a leading theorist of the off off-Broadway movement).
K. A. GLADYSHEVA