The WPA Theatre Project-conceived as a relief measure, a work program, and an artistic experiment-enjoyed a brief but lively existence. With skill and sensitivity Mrs. Mathews explores its turbulent history from its ambiguous origins in 1935 to its tragic demise in 1939. The book recreate: the atmosphere of the era, and conveys a vivid sense of the Joys, frustrations, and personal sacrifices undergone by those dedicated few who recognized the need for an American People's Theatre.. Mrs. Mathews also provides a detailed account of the Congressional hearings which occasioned the disbanding of the. Project, and a fascinating portrait of Hallie Flanagan, the Projects colorful National Director. Originally published in 1967. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
This theatre history work is an appraisal of the artistic and political impact of the Federal Theatre of The Great Depression on the careers of representative black actors. These include Canada Lee, Rex Ingram and Dooley Wilson. As an icebreaker, the Federal Theatre made it possible for black actors and audiences to enjoy benefits unknown previously: union protection, a theatre for the masses, a reduction of the stereotype, visibility that led to Broadway and to Hollywood, and an ensemble spirit. In spite of the tragedies of the WPA Project, there were significant triumphs.
During the 1930s the Work Progress Administration funded the Federal Theater Project to sustain unemployed theatrical workers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major urban centers, employing over 12,000 people and presenting countless productions. Some of the most popular and memorable of these works, such as the "voodoo" Macbeth and the "swing" Mikado, were produced in the so-called Negro Units, whose story is narrated in this book. Particular focus is given to problems of representation in a community and in an era trying to define what was African American, what was Negro, what was American, what was peculiar, and what was universal in the arts.
The Carolina Playmakers and the Quest for American Drama
Author: Cecelia Moore
Pubpsher: Lexington Books
The Federal Theatre Project in the American South introduces the people and projects that shaped the regional identity of the Federal Theatre Project. When college theatre director Hallie Flanagan became head of this New Deal era jobs program in 1935, she envisioned a national theatre comprised of a network of theatres across the country. A regional approach was more than organizational; it was a conceptual model for a national art. Flanagan was part of the little theatre movement that had already developed a new American drama drawn from the distinctive heritage of each region and which they believed would, collectively, illustrate a national identity. The Federal Theatre plan relied on a successful regional model – the folk drama program at the University of North Carolina, led by Frederick Koch and Paul Green. Through a unique partnership of public university, private philanthropy and community participation, Koch had developed a successful playwriting program and extension service that built community theatres throughout the state. North Carolina, along with the rest of the Southern region, seemed an unpromising place for government theatre. Racial segregation and conservative politics limited the Federal Theatre’s ability to experiment with new ideas in the region. Yet in North Carolina, the Project thrived. Amateur drama units became vibrant community theatres where whites and African Americans worked together. Project personnel launched The Lost Colony, one of the first so-called outdoor historical dramas that would become its own movement. The Federal Theatre sent unemployed dramatists, including future novelist Betty Smith, to the university to work with Koch and Green. They joined other playwrights, including African American writer Zora Neale Hurston, who came to North Carolina because of their own interest in folk drama. Their experience, told in this book, is a backdrop for each successive generation’s debates over government, cultural expression, art and identity in the American nation.
In the American mind, state subsidization of writers and artists was long associated with monarchies and, in later years, socialist states. The support these regimes gave to intellectuals was understood to come with a cost, yet, beginning with the New Deal's Federal Writers', Art, and Theater Projects, a new policy consensus asserted that by offering financial support to the arts, the federal government was affirming their importance to the nation.Subsidizing Culture examines the development of and controversies surrounding federal programs that directly benefit writers, artists, and intellectuals. James T. Bennett examines four cases of such support: the New Deal's Federal Writers', Art, and Theater Projects; the vigorous promotion, in the post-World War II and early Cold War eras, of abstract expressionism and other forms of modern art by the US government; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which has fortified its position as the preeminent arts bureaucracy; and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NEA's less embattled twin, which funnels monies to scholars.Bennett concentrates on the creation of and the debate over these government programs, and he gives special attention to the critics, who are usually ignored. He reminds us that the chorus of anti-subsidy voices over the years has included such disparate figures as writers William Faulkner and John Updike; artists John Sloan and Wheeler Williams; and social critics Jacques Barzun and H.L. Mencken.