The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Michael McGrinder

Michael McGrinder

Playwright, Publisher

Interviewed on: Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #59
"You want to be in control of your own destiny. That was the fun part of Off-Off-Broadway . . . we were just in control of it all."
Michael McGrinder Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 57 seconds
Michael McGrinder Interview
Video Length: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Michael McGrinder is an Irish-American playwright, short story writer, and poet. He publishes the Old Reliable Press, dedicated to preserving plays from early Off-Off-Broadway. McGrinder’s plays were primarily featured at the Old Reliable Theatre Tavern in the East Village, where plays were presented from 1967 to 1971. McGrinder was born at Women’s Hospital in Manhattan and grew up in the South Bronx, developing an active imagination at an early age through long solitary walks, and later as a streetwise youth both fending off Puerto Rican gangs and becoming friends with their members. He spent his early twenties in England, where he took part in a robust poetry scene and acquired a taste for and interest in theatre. While in London, he wrote his first play, NO SALE.

Returning to New York, he lived on the Lower East Side and quickly became involved in the Off-Off-Broadway scene, so new at the time that it was generally referred to as “café theatre.” McGrinder’s first production, a double bill of one-act plays, took place in 1967 at The Playwrights Workshop. NO SALE (1968) was later produced at the Old Reliable Theatre Tavern along with other plays by McGrinder, notably: THE FOREIGNERS (1968), SINGLES AND DOUBLES (1969), HEATHEN PIPER (1969), WE HATE TO SEE YOU GO (1970), and SUBTITTLES (1970). McGrinder has received the Scene Playwright’s Award, Writers Forum Poetry Completion Award, and a USAF Short Story Award.

Mentioned in Interview

Ellen Stewart, Paul Foster, Robert Patrick, Edgar Allan Poe, Samuel French, Phoebe Wray, Norman “Speedy” Hartman, Neil Flanagan, Tony Bastiano, William Carlos Williams, e.e cummings, Sandra Scoppettone, Proscenium Newsletter, The Old Reliable Press, Writers Forum, The Old Reliable Theatre Tavern, Caffé Cino, La MaMa E.T.C., Playwright’s Workshop, Bastiano’s Cellar, Judson Poets Theatre, Theatre Genesis, NO SALE, HEATHEN PIPER, WE HATE TO SEE YOU GO, THE FOREIGNERS