Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mayhem on Sixth Avenue!

Out of the night at the intersection of 9th Street and Sixth Avenue there dashed a frantic, frazzled man shouting that he was a drama critic and that the police had just invaded a theater up on 14th Street and carted the star away — — a certain Miss Mae West (several decades before Off-Off-Broadway) — — to the Jefferson Market Jailhouse, right where we were now standing.

Once there had also been a women's prison that provided bed and board from time to time to such grandes dames of Off-Off-Broadway as Judith Malina and Ellen Stewart, according to Jerry Tallmer, drama critic, writing about these events in The Villager.
• • Only now it was no longer the jail nor the long-gone Women’s House of Detention. It was an anonymous overgrown swath of greenery, and the principal witnesses to all this were a dozen journalists who had been invited to accompany and observe a preview of “OFF Stage: the West Village Fragments,” an on-foot, two-hour revisit of some of the sites and sounds of the Off-Off-Broadway classics of the 1960s. Déjà OOB all over again, reports Jerry Taller.
• • “Look, she’s out!” somebody yelled. And there she was, Miss Mae West herself (more or less) to inform the world, or this tiny corner of it, how deeply women disliked having to “spread ourselves across the public table like platters at a banquet.” [This, too, from Jerry Tallmer's coverage.]
• • Just then a half-dozen agitated persons burst on the scene waving signs and yelling things like: “Art before taxes! Let freedom ring!”
As the police (well, one pseudo-policeman) closed in, the journalists were sent trotting down Christopher Street . . . . [Continue reading Jerry Tallmer's reportage of this site-specific theatrical offering:]
• • • • Off Stage: The West Village Fragments • • • •
• • An intriguing site-specific multi-venue performance, Off Stage: The West Village Fragments will travel along historic West Village streets. Along the way, short scenes from over a dozen landmark Off-Off Broadway plays will reawaken the actual sites where they premiered. There will also be original performances between stops. A special treat for lovers of theater and the history of Greenwich Village. Equally recommended for New Yorkers and tourists alike. The journey begins at Sixth Avenue & West 9th Street.
• • Meet @ the Traffic Circle: 6th Avenue & West Ninth Street, NY
• • Three shows nightly until 7 October 2006
• • Peculiar Works Project: 212-529-3626
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• • Photo: Mae West • • on trial at Jefferson Market Court • • March 1927 • •

Jefferson Market.