For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Caffe Cino.

Caffe Cino

Caffe Cino
Address31 Cornelia St.
New York City
United States
Coordinates40°43′52.6″N 74°00′10.5″W / 40.731278°N 74.002917°W / 40.731278; -74.002917
OperatorJoe Cino
TypeOff-Broadway theatre

Caffe Cino was an Off-Off-Broadway theater founded in 1958 by Joe Cino. The West Village coffeehouse, located at 31 Cornelia Street, was initially conceived as a venue for poetry, folk music, and visual art exhibitions. The plays produced at the Cino, however, became most prominent, and it is now considered the "birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway".[1]

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 2017.[2]

Beginnings and early productions

A plaque indicating that Caffe Cino was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017

Joe Cino was born into an Italian-American family, and moved from Buffalo, New York to be a dancer in New York City. After 10 years, he used his $400 in savings and opened the Caffe Cino Art Gallery.[3] Initially, Cino encouraged his friends to hang their artwork on the walls. That led to poetry readings, which led to staged readings and eventually to productions of plays.[4]

During the early days of the Cino, plays were produced on the floor. A makeshift 8x8-foot stage was later created using milk cartons and carpet remnants. Productions were initially limited to 30 minutes, and the audience could stand anywhere. The space was only 18x30-feet, and audience members often perched atop the cigarette machine.[3] Admission was one dollar, and audience members were offered a coffee and an Italian pastry along with the show.[4]

Fire and Cino's death

Interior of Bombay Bistro, formerly Cafe Cino

On Ash Wednesday, March 3, 1965, a fire destroyed the interior of the Cino. The building's structure was not affected. A new lighting system had been installed, along with the fireproofing of the Caffe's ceiling, which prevented the fire from spreading to the rest of the tenement building.[5] The official cause of the fire was a gas leak, but some suspected that Cino's lover set the fire. The community raised money by staging benefit performances while the Caffe was closed for renovations.[1] Ellen Stewart, founder of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, offered Cino and his staff a space to continue Caffe Cino productions on Sunday and Monday nights at her theater.[5]

Joe Cino died three days after repeatedly stabbing himself in 1967.[3]

Notable contributors

The Caffe Cino was an incubator for first-time directors, playwrights, actors, and lighting or set designers. Many continued to work in stage, screen, or both after the Cino closed. Notable contributors include:

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Caffe Cino
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 ๐ŸŽ‰! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?