Overview (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
When The Village Voice Obie Awards were instituted during the 1955-1956 theatrical season, they recognized for the first time the important and significant dramatic activities that flourished Off-Broadway in the dozens of small theaters, church auditoriums, and public meeting halls that were used for the presentation of plays that could not, for various reasons, be performed on Broadway.
The venues in which these plays were presented were smaller than Broadway theaters, thereby limiting the size of audiences and the revenues of such productions. Likewise, the tickets were not expensive, further limiting the profitability of such presentations. No one associated with Off-Broadway theater was in it for profit. Indeed, it was a rare Off-Broadway production that did not lose money. The salaries of those associated with such plays were considerably lower than those of their counterparts on Broadway.
Jerry Tallmer, drama critic for The Village Voice , an avant-garde newspaper that appeared weekly in New York City’s Greenwich Village starting in 1955 and soon attracted a national audience, established The Village Voice Obie Awards in 1956. He and his colleagues at The Village Voice realized that Off-Broadway theater served two fundamental purposes. For one thing, it made possible the production of significant older plays that were not being brought to Broadway. While this conservation function of...
(The entire section is 345 words.)
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