Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Melby Phaneuf


This study examines the role which the Caffe Cinco played in the development of Lanford Wilson's career. It combines the history of the Caffe Cinco with the analysis of the themes of fantasy and sexuality in four of Wilson's one act plays, showing how he learned and progressed as a playwright during the period when he was associated with the Caffe Cinco. Chapter One provides background information on the economic reasons for the development of the alternative theatre movement in Greenwich Village during the early sixties which became known as "Off Off- Broadway." The Caffe Cincowas the earliest and most important coffeehouse theater in the movement, Chapter Two includes a description of the Caffe Cinco and anecdotes about its owner Joseph Cinco taken from personal remembrances of people associated with him. It also contains a history of the cinco derived primarily from information gleaned from articles and announcements in The Village Voice. Chapter Three contains an analysis of the themes of fantasy and sexuality in the published plays of 1964, Home Free and The Maddness Of Lady Bright. The plays are known for their sympathetic portrayal of aberrant character. Elements of style in the plays are also explored. Background on the two unpublished plays, So Long at the Fair No Trespassing, are briefly discussed. Chapter Four examines Wilson's two plays which were performed at the Caffe Cinco between January and July 1965. Ludlow Fair and This is the Rill Speaking are Wilsons first attempt to create normative characters. Fantasy and sexuality are still integral to the characters, but Wilson's use of it is less obvious than in the previous plays discussed. Style is a major element in This Is the Rill Speaking. Much of the information contained in the thesis was obtained from personal interviews conducted in 1990 with Megan Terry, Robert Patrick and Lanford Wilson. An appendix is included which catalogues all the listings for the Caffe Cinco in The Village Voice from 1959 to 1968. Facsimiles of four original posters designed by Wilson for Home Free, The Madness of Lady Bright, and This Is the Rill Speaking are also included.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Dramatic Arts and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1990 Kathryn Ann Absher

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