Voices from the Federal Theater

Overview

    The Federal Theatre Project, a 1930s relief project of the Roosevelt administration, brought more theater to more people in every corner of America that at any time in U.S. history. The Project had units in every region of the country, including groundbreaking African American troupes, and staged productions from daring dramas like The Voodoo Macbeth, Waiting for Lefty, and The Cradle Will Rock to musicals, vaudeville, and puppet shows. It was canceled in a firestorm of controversy that ...

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Overview

    The Federal Theatre Project, a 1930s relief project of the Roosevelt administration, brought more theater to more people in every corner of America that at any time in U.S. history. The Project had units in every region of the country, including groundbreaking African American troupes, and staged productions from daring dramas like The Voodoo Macbeth, Waiting for Lefty, and The Cradle Will Rock to musicals, vaudeville, and puppet shows. It was canceled in a firestorm of controversy that gave birth to the damning question: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?"
    This book documents that vibrant, colorful, politically explosive time, which gave rise to bitter debates about the role of government in American art and culture. It includes interviews with such Federal Theatre actors, playwrights, directors, designers, producers, and dancers as Arthur Miller, Studs Terkel, Jules Dassin, Katherine Dunham, Rosetta Lenoire, John Houseman, and many others.
    Voices from the Federal Theatre is a tie-in with the public televison special Who Killed the Federal Theatre? hosted by Judd Hirsch and coproduced by Schwartz with the Educational Film Center.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Spawned by the Works Progress Administration as a means of employing more than 20,000 theater artists during the Great Depression, the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), alive for only four short years, 1935-39, irrevocably changed our ideas about theater and the role of government in art. In collaboration with the Educational Film Center, Schwartz produced the PBS special Who Killed the Federal Theatre?: An Investigation, which airs this fall; this is the print tie-in. The five-part text is made up of oral history-like interviews with 18 individuals who worked in the FTP, including actors, producers, writers, variety artists, and others. There are wonderful reminiscences, insights, and anecdotes from luminaries such as Arthur Miller, John Houseman, Studs Terkel, and Clinton Turner Davis. Introduced by eminent theater scholar and critic Robert Brustein, this book also features delightful production stills, and the hardcover edition will come with the program DVD (not seen). The FTP was the first theater experience to be officially funded and sanctioned by the government, a radical experiment that did for theater what the printing press did for education-it brought people together. As a seminal (and readable!) work on the FTP, this is highly recommended for all performing arts collections.-Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299183202
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bonnie Nelson Schwartz is a producer for the Broadway stage, film and television. She has worked on more than 100 plays, films, television programs, and concert specials worldwide.

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