Betty Smith in 1-Act

Betty Smith in 1-Act

an evening of comedies

Greenpoint’s The Spartan Theatre presents
three 20-minute plays by Williamsburg’s Betty Smith

November 13, 14, 15; 20, 21, 22 at 8pm

Saturday, November 22nd Betty Smith’s daughter Nancy Smith Pfeiffer will give a talk during the intermission.

Betty Smith

Betty Smith as a young girl, photo courtesy of daughter Nancy Pheiffer


I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in Chapel Hill, N. C. After graduating from Chapel Hill High School, I attended the University of North Carolina and received a B. A. in English in 1944. I am a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1947, I received an M. A. in Journalism from the University of Michigan.

I have worked as a reporter for the Durham (North Carolina) Morning Herald, as a Newspaper Publicist with Twentieth-Century-Fox (New York office) and as a Probation officer with the Juvenile and Family Court, Denver, CO. I lived abroad in the Republic of Panama and Switzerland for seven years. While in Panama, I taught English at the BiNational Center.

Since coming to live in the New England area, I have been a free-lance photojournalism, have taught numerous creative writing classes, and have served as Program Director for North Haven Community Television. In this capacity I produced a number of television documentaries.

Interests include: travel, photography, videography, hiking, nature, history, other cultures.

My husband and I celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary in June of this year. We have three children and two grandchildren. My husband is Swiss. I met him in 1946 when I went to Switzerland to study French at the University of Geneva.


The evening features three short plays by Smith, which are being produced for the first time in over 50 years. In the political satire "Freedom's Bird" (1937), a conservative politician is sure that the only thing voters care about is a good show, so he enlists the aid of a turkey buzzard to fly bald-eagle-like over his campaign speech. In the comedy "Lawyer Lincoln" (1939), a pre-Presidential Honest Abe cleverly negotiates a marriage proposal for a young couple that can't seem to handle the job on their own. Finally, "Vine Leaves" 1937) concerns a young real estate clerk who faces unemployment when his love poetry is published, embarrassing his image-conscious employers.

Tickets/ Reservations: Call 212/ 868-4444 or purchase online at
Information: 212/ 560-4302 or visit The Spartan's website
Free admission to the unemployed with ID and stub of your most recent Unemployment check. If you are an educator who’d like to arrange a matinee performance for your class at WAH, please call to arrange a special showing and rates.

Betty Smith (1896-1972) was born Sophina Elisabeth Wehner and grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Although Ms. Smith never finished high school, she was able to attend the University of Michigan, where she studied journalism, drama, writing and literature. She was one of the first woman graduates of the Yale School of Drama, and won the Avery Hopkins Award for her work in drama. She worked for the WPA's Federal Theatre project for decades. In 1943, her first novel, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, became a critically-lauded bestseller. The 1945 film version, which featured Dorothy McGuire and James Dunn (who won an Oscar for his work), was directed by former Yale classmate Elia Kazan. The novel was also the basis for the 1951 Broadway musical of the same name, which featured a score by Arthur Schwartz and Dorothy Fields and is currently enjoying a revival at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.

For extensive information on Betty Smith, please visit
Betty Smith: 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' and Beyond by Lisa Grimm

For information about The Spartan, visit

This production sponsored by The Brooklyn Arts Council, Fractured Atlas, The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and wonderful individual donors.

Events & Exhibits Williamsburg Art and Historical Center: Events & Exhibits