Interior of Playhouse 133 Macdougal Street
The Provincetown Players were a collective of playwrights and other artists who gathered in the early twentieth century in order to present an experimental form of drama for those who wished for alternatives to mainstream American theater. Susan Glaspell and her husband George Cram Cook were among the original founders, and they co-wrote a play entitled Suppressed Desires, which was first shown in combination with Neith Boyce's Constancy on July 15, 1915, at a rented cottage on the ocean in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Along with Susan Glaspell, Eugene O'Neill was one of the most influential playwrights to join the Provincetown Players.
The men and women who joined the Provincetown Players sought a different perspective than was available in the contemporary melodramas of Broadway. The group came to represent the "Little Theatre" movement of writers who preferred smaller, intimate productions to spectacle and commerciality. In 1916 the Provincetown Players took up residence in Greenwich Village and for years thereafter discovered and developed the work of such noted writers, designers, and actors as Floyd Dell and Edna St. Vincent Millay. From its inception to its demise in 1929, the Provincetown Players flourished as a noncommercial theatre; it stimulated the work of many theatrical talents that otherwise might have remained obscure.
Floyd Dell, playwright, 1913
In his autobiography Homecoming, Floyd Dell wrote: “George Cook brought the Provincetown Players to New York in 1916 and a theatre was made out of a stable on Macdougal Street. There was a play of mine, ‘King Arthur’s Socks’, on the first bill, and three other later. I sympathized deeply with George’s hopes, though for the life of me I could not share his profound admiration for Eugene O’Neill . . . To me, the justification of the Provincetown Players’ existence . . . was in two plays: one was Susan Glaspell’s ‘The Inheritors’; a beautiful, true, brave play of war-time. In this play, moreover, Susan Glaspell brought to triumphant fruition something that was George Cook’s, in a way that he never could—something earthy, sweet and beautiful that had not been in her own work before. ‘The Inheritors’ was a high moment in American drama. The other play in which the Provincetown Theatre full justified its existence was Edna St. Vincent Millay’s profoundly beautiful ‘Aria da Capo’, a war-play too, in its own symbolic fashion, and full of the indignation and pity which war’s useless slaughter had aroused in her poet’s mind and heart.”
Floyd Dell wrote several one-act plays for the Provincetown Players to perform, which included:
• Human Nature: A Very Short Morality Play (1913)
• Chaste Adventures Of Joseph: A Comedy (1914)
• Ibsen Revisited: A Piece Of Foolishness (1914)
• Enigma: A Domestic Conversation (1915)
• Rim of the World: A Fantasy (1915)
• Legend: A Romance (1915)
• King Arthur's Socks: A Comedy (1915)
• Long Time Ago: A Tragic Fantasy (1917)
• Angel Intrudes: A Comedy (1917)
• Sweet-And-Twenty: A Comedy (1918)
• Poor Harold: A Comedy (1920)
For the plays in their entirety, see:King Arthur’s Socks and Other Plays, edited by F Shay. Cincinnati: Stewart Kidd, 1921.
Dell also wrote two film scripts for Hollywood, “Little Accident” in 1928 and “Cloudy with Showers” in 1931