(Steven McElroy’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/7; via Kathleen Peirce and Jeanne Bornstein.)

JOSEPH CINO didn’t set out to be a pioneer. He began presenting plays at his Cornelia Street cafe on a whim, as an offshoot of the poetry readings that expressed his desire to create a place where artistic types would want to spend time. A dreamer and newcomer to Manhattan by way of Buffalo, he opened that establishment, Caffe Cino, in 1958 and over time became a veritable spokesman for the intimate and uncommercial productions mounted on its shabby, makeshift stage.

Throughout the 1960s playwrights like Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, John Guare, Robert Patrick, Robert Heide, H. M. Koutoukas, Tom Eyen and Doric Wilson presented their earliest works at the cafe, now commonly considered the birthplace of Off Off Broadway theater. “It was so exciting and so necessary and fed so many people,” said the playwright Edward Albee, who, despite gaining success on his own in those early Cino years, spent a lot of time there.


To view Caffe Cino pictures from Robert Patrick’s archive click here: http://caffecino.wordpress.com/

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