Small-scale theatrical productions in New York City. The term was first used to refer to experimental plays produced on low budgets in small theatres, which provided an alternative to the commercially oriented Broadway theatres. Off-Broadway theatres grew in quality and importance after 1952, with the success of José Quintero's productions. Plays by Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, and Lanford Wilson were first produced off Broadway, as were avant-garde works by Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, and Harold Pinter. Many new plays are now staged in well-equipped Off-Broadway houses, and Off-Broadway theatre has its own set of awards, the Obies. As production costs increased, smaller and more experimental theatres emerged; these were quickly labeled Off-Off-Broadway.
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