Willow Cabin Theatre Company History
|Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out 'Olivia!'
|Our Mission Statement
The Willow Cabin Theater Company is a rare entity in New York theater-a collective
working together in the belief that the whole can be much greater than the sum of its
parts. Harnessing this ensemble energy, our mission is to produce affordable, literate
entertainment illuminating the unique capacity of legitimate theater to communicate and
Willow Cabin Theater Company History
This document's text was extracted from back files after WCTC's office was closed. The
following content has not been edited for errors, omissions or style.
Willow Cabin Theater Company is a professional ensemble based in New York City. Each
year, Willow Cabin stages three to five full-length productions Off Off-Broadway. The
company has also had two productions fill Off-Broadway houses, with Wilder, Wilder,
Wilder ¬ Three By Thornton Wilder opening on Broadway in 1993. In addition, Willow
Cabin tours its productions within New York State and throughout the Eastern United
At the core of Willow Cabin is a group of skilled artists who care deeply about the quality of
their work and each other and the future of the arts in New York City. The company invites
each member of its audience to join its journey and seeks to enhance the quality of their
life through the presentation of material dealing with both contemporary and timeless
The ensemble evolved in 1988 as a group working with Edward Berkeley, who is Co-
General Director of the Aspen Opera Theater Center and serves on the faculties of Circle In
The Square Professional Workshop and the Juilliard Opera Center. Willow Cabin’s first
production under Mr. Berkeley’s direction was Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, performed for
two weeks at the Westbeth Theater. The following year, Mr. Berkeley directed the
company in four of Eugene O’Neill’s Sea Plays, as well as a full-length production of
Charlotte Delbo’s Who Will Carry The Word?, which recounted 23 women’s experience in
By its third year, Willow Cabin had achieved a level of acclaim that was extraordinary for a
young company. New York City productions included a workshop of an original play written
expressly for the company and two American premieres, including a musical, Morning
Song. The company also brought productions of Sea Plays and Shakespeare’s A
Midsummer Night’s Dream to the Egg in Albany. Dream, which features seven actors
performing all 28 roles, has since become Willow Cabin’s signature piece.
During 1990-91, Willow Cabin’s Off Off-Broadway offerings included productions of Moliere’
s Tartuffe, Odon von Horvath’s Judgment Day (featuring Michael Rispoli of While You Were
Sleeping, Angie and Household Saints), and John Gray’s Billy Bishop Goes To War. The
company also staged a new work, Double Bound, written and directed by Willow Cabin
founding member Adam Oliensis.
A series of critically acclaimed productions marked Willow Cabin’s fifth year. Jean Genet’s
The Balcony led off the season, followed by Cowboy In His Underwear by Adam Oliensis.
Louise Page’s Like To Live/Tissue featured guest artist Meg Wynn-Owen, internationally
known for her leading role on television’s Upstairs, Downstairs. Riveting performances by
Willow Cabin founding members John Bolger (Parting Glances) and Cecil Hoffman (L.A. Law)
highlighted Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Willow Cabin’s 1991-92 season finale.
On December 4, 1992, Willow Cabin’s production of Wilder, Wilder, Wilder ¬ Three by
Thornton Wilder, premiered Off Off-Broadway to rave reviews from all major publications,
including The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Newsday, The Wall Street Journal
and New York Post. After a seven week run Off-Broadway at the McGinn/Cazale Theater,
Wilder reopened at The Circle In The Square Theater on April 21, 1993. The production
received a Drama Desk Award nomination, as well as a Tony® nomination as Outstanding
Revival of the season. The opening at Circle, moreover, made Wilder the first play in
theater history to be staged Off Off-Broadway, Off-Broadway and on Broadway during the
same season. In the interim, Willow Cabin became the first non-musical theater company
to be invited to The Barns at Wolf Trap near Washington, D.C. The company’s January
1993 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was both a critical and financial success at
this landmark’s performing arts center.
The company’s 1993-94 season saw the return of two plays previously performed during
Willow Cabin’s second season: a quartet of Eugene O’Neill’s Sea Plays and the critically
acclaimed 1989 production of Charlotte Delbo’s Who Will Carry The Word?. The producers
felt very strongly about these two works and thought they deserved a second look. Word,
moreover, was scheduled for 1993 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw
Ghetto uprising and the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. The
eloquence and power of Mme Delbo’s story inspired the company to “carry the word” of
this extraordinary production further to an Off-Broadway theater in the spring of 1994.
Howard Kissel of the Daily News named Willow Cabin’s production of Word among his Ten
Best of 1994; Dramalogue magazine also voted it among its Ten Best of 1994 and singled
out Edward Berkeley as Best Director of a Play. Between the Sea Plays and Word, Willow
Cabin brought Shakespeare’s As You Like It to Wolf Trap in January 1994, continuing what
has become a yearly tradition. The production then opened at the Judith Anderson
Theater in Manhattan’s Theater Row to much critical and commercial success.
Willow Cabin Theater Company began its 1994-95 season with a most unusual
production. Edward Berkeley’s idea for adapting Anatomy of Sound, an evening of six
Norman Corwin radio plays written in the 1940s, proved a wonderful adventure. The
richness of the language focuses on the nature of communication, where thought and
words are the core, but where silence, music and vision all take part, as well. This
compelling staging proved most stirring to critics and audiences alike. Drama Desk
recognized these radio plays with a 1995 nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience. In
January of 1995, the company brought a third Shakespeare comedy to Wolf Trap, Twelfth
Night, or What You Will, and ran the show Off Off-Broadway on their return to New York.
Willow Cabin closed this season with the New York premiere of the original text of David
Rabe’s Goose and Tomtom, with the full support and collaboration of the play’s author.
The 1995-96 season began with what, hopefully, would be a yearly event: A Child’s
Christmas in Wales, a musical adaptation based on the Dylan Thomas short story. The
wonderful reviews assured that it will return in December 1996. The American premiere of
The Ends of The Earth by Canadian playwright Morris Panych and a voyage into the 1960’s
world of British playwright Frank Marcus and The Killing of Sister George re-established our
commitment to literate plays on the cutting edge of society.
Willow Cabin began its eleventh season with Street Scene by Elmer Rice. Its run was sold
out. A Child’s Christmas In Wales returned for its second season. Sold out. The season
finished with Don Juan Comes Back From The War, Christopher Hampton’s translation of
the von Horvath play. The New York Times hailed it as a wonderful theatrical experience.
This season once again began with A Child’s Christmas In Wales for a third year. In
March, under the title Rootless Beauties the Company explored two late one-act plays by
Tennessee Williams: Confessional and The Mutilated. The production has been described
as “rougher, tougher, and hits the spot far, far better than did the more refined Broadway
product 30 years ago.” (Barnes/NYPost). In May we expand on the theme of American one-
acts with rare gems by William Inge. A contemporary to Williams, Inge takes a deep look
into a cross-section of American souls, lost and found, touching us to the core.
As you can see, Willow Cabin is continuing to present classic and contemporary works of
literary merit. The company further strives to advance the arts in an increasingly complex
society. The ensemble, as artists, seeks the liberation of the mind and spirit to express
and integrate the entire human experience. This will lead us all to face our best and worst
selves, empowering and challenging us to question, to confront our fears and embrace our
humanity for the common good. What the company hopes to share are these ideals and a
love of the spoken word that is simple, open and accessible.
At this point in time the history was no longer updated. The company had a few more seasons
and then went into hiatus. At some point in time I hope to edit and complete this history.