The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

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

Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick

Playwright, Caffe Cino
Born on Thursday, October 27, 2016

Interviewed on: Monday, June 8, 2015
Location: Mr. Childs' Home
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #45
Photo Credit: Diana Lundin
"When artists stopped having to pay rent in theaters is when Off-Off-Broadway happened. Places that made their living by other means: coffee houses, bars, churches, book stores."
Robert Patrick Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 19 seconds
Robert Patrick Interview Part One
Video Length: 2 Hours, 1 Minute
Robert Patrick Interview Part Two
Video Length: 49 Minutes 50 Seconds

Robert Patrick is a playwright and performer who was heavily involved in works at the Caffe Cino until it closed in 1968. His plays performed there include: THE HAUNTED HOST (1964), INDECENT EXPOSURE (1966), THREE MINI PLAYS: LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION (1967), THE WARHOL MACHINE (1967), and CORNERED (1968). Following the closing of Caffe Cino, Patrick went on to have plays produced at the Old Reliable, La MaMa E.T.C., and throughout New York, earning him the title of New York’s most produced playwright. He was the 'go-to guy' of Off-Off-Broadway theatre, known around theatre circles as the “Up by Wednesday Guy” for his ability to quickly write and get a show “up by Wednesday” to fill empty theaters or no-show performances.

Robert Patrick was born Robert Patrick O’Conner in Kilgore, Texas. After a short-lived career in the Air Force, he stumbled onto Caffe Cino on September 14, 1961 and found it too irresistible to leave. He soon found himself working any and every odd job at the theater to assist in the productions. His name change occurred when he was performing in his own play, THE HAUNTED HOST, at Caffe Cino and did not want people to know he had also written the play. Marshall W. Mason, director of THE HAUNTED HOST, chose Robert Patrick as the name for the playwright, and it stuck. Patrick’s play KENNEDY’S CHILDREN (1975) went on to be widely produced, translated into 60 languages, and eventually made its way to Broadway. Some of his other plays include: JUDAS (1973), T-SHIRTS (1979), HELLO, BOB (1990), and WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME MAKES A GREAT STORY LATER (2014). Patrick moved to California in 1990.

Mentioned in Interview

Ellen Stewart, Joe Cino, Bob Moss, Norman ‘Speedy’ Hartman, John P. Dodd, Bill Mitchell, Allegra Jostad, Taylor Mead, Tiny Tim, Helen Honkamp, Ron Faber, Neil Flanagan, Fred Willard, Johnny Torre, Helen Hanft, Kenny Burgess, Glenn Dubose, Bob Dahdah, Tennessee Williams, Lanford Wilson, Marshall W. Mason, Harvey Milk, Neil Simon, Noel Coward, Eugene O’Neill, Jean Kerr, Tom O’Horgan, Jerry Ragni, James Rado, Jean-Claude van Itallie, John Guare, Andy Milligan, Charles Lubier, Phoebe Mooney, Mary Boylan, Doric Wilson, Robert Heide, Michael Warren Powell, Magie Dominic, Tom Eyen, Charles Stanley, Tony Bastiano, Shirley Stoler, Joe Pichette, Jeff Weiss, H. M. Koutoukas, Harvey Fierstein, Joe Bush, Jon Torrey, Claris Nelson, Joe Davies, Andy Warhol, Michael Smith, Sam Shepard, David Starkweather, Tanya Bererzin, Donald L. Brooks, Don Parker, Lily Tomlin, Marlo Thomas, Paul Foster, Jacque Lynn Colton, Ondine, Conrad Ward, Hope Stansbury, Tommy Garland, Al Pacino, Bill Haislip, Keith Carsey, Milton Wyatt, Phebe’s Restaurant, Caffe Cino, The Old Reliable, La Mama, Playwrights Horizons, FLYSPRAY, HAIR, WAR, THE MADNESS OF LADY BRIGHT, BALM IN GILEAD, THE RIMERS OF ELDRITCH, THE HAUNTED HOST, KENNEDY’S CHILDREN, SO LONG AT THE FAIR, WHY HANNA’S SKIRTS WON’T GO DOWN, A FUNNY WALK HOME, MOON, THE BED, CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, THE CLOWN, LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION, THAT’S HOW THE RENT GETS PAID, DAMES AT SEA, PSYCHEDELIC FOLLIES, WONDER WOMAN, SNOW WHITE, THE SECRET OF TABOO MOUNTAIN, FAUST

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