Wharf Players Theater
Theater was taken so very seriously in Provincetown in the early 20th century that schisms arose. Mary Bicknell’s Wharf Theater, founded in 1923, first performed in a movie theater, then moved briefly to Frank Shay’s barn. Both factions — Bicknell’s and Shay’s — sought to dominate at this playhouse. The more conservative Bicknell group tried to get the upper hand by walking off with benches, props and equipment. In 1925, they built their own theater, on what had been known as the Myrick Atwood Wharf.
“The Wharf Theater was good fun the first two years,” Mary Heaton Vorse wrote. “It had the element of something fresh and new and untried, but the financial burden was too great for Mary Bicknell. … In its day, the most one could say of it was that it produced a number of plays very charmingly.” Bicknell gave it up after two years and each succeeding management “failed to make a success,” Vorse wrote. In 1940 — not 1941, as the plaque states — the theater fell into the harbor. Costumes, scenery and props were scattered along the shoreline.