On Dec 10th 2012, CHPC’s original production “The Stuyvesant Town: This Is Your Home” premiered at the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Theatre on West 42nd Street. It was a smashing success!
The night began with a wine and cheese reception in the second floor lobby of the spectacular Signature Theatre. More than 250 prominent guests attended the event.
Based on the primary source documents in CHPC’s Ruth Dickler – Marian Sameth Archival Library, the play brought the audience back to the 1940s and 1950s and revisited the struggle to integrate Stuyvesant Town. Through stage reading of original news articles, letters, and transcript of meetings, the play vividly reproduced many of the definitive moments of the controversy. For example, the debate and passing of the 1943 Stuyvesant Town plan, the 1947 New York Supreme court’s quashing of three African American war veterans’ lawsuit against Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and the 1950 eventual admission of African American tenant into Stuyvesant Town. The play also left the audience with deep impression of lively images of key players in the center of the controversy, to name but a few, Assembly member William T. Andrews, Commissioner Robert Moses, and one of the audience’ favorite, George Mitchell, a young man that represented no particular organization but presented signatures of a majority of the actors in all the major attractions on Broadway for a petition against the Stuyvesant Town plan on the council meeting to vote for the very plan.
After the play, a panel of experts discussed the controversy of Stuyvesant Town further and answered questions from the audience. The panel discussion was hosted by Jerilyn Perine, Executive Director of CHPC, featuring Seema Agnani, founder and executive director of Chhaya CDC; Charles Bagli, NYT reporter whose book about Stuyvesant Town comes out this spring; and Gwen
dolyn Wright, professor of architecture at Columbia University and co-host of PBS’s History Detectives. Inspired by the play, the audience raised many interesting questions covering a wide range of topics, like the difference and relationship between Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and the role of public opinion in city planning.The evening concluded with the warm scene of the play writer Adam Thorburn shyly accepting flowers from his parents and receiving a round of applause from the audience.