Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943

By Joseph McLaren | Go to book overview
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In addition to the blues response, the title of Claude McKay's 1928 novel is used in the boys' answer to the hostility they find in the white neighborhood, Let's go home to Harlem." The play closes with an ironic inversion of the East side and West side locales from the popular tune The Sidewalks of New York: 'Up Town, Downtown, All Around the Town.'66 Although a simple, lighthearted skit, Young As We Is presents a number of issues relating to black youth and urban street labor during the 1930s.

Although Don't You Want to Be Free? was known by this shorter title, the published version, in One Act Play Magazine Oct. 1938: 359, contains the additional descriptive additions to the title: "From Slavery Through the Blues to Now--and then some!--with Singing, Music and Dancing". "Harlem Suitcase Theatre Opens Its Second Season", flier, in Jack Rummel, Langston Hughes ( New York: Chelsea House, 1988) 96. This flier lists a number of skits.
LHP-YUBL. Although a downtown meeting place is indicated, Hughes also gave his Harlem address.
John Harding, "The Public Is Major Stockholder: Langston Hughes Heads Suitcase Theatre of Harlem Supported by I.W.O.", Daily Worker 20 Apr. 1938: 7.
Mark Naison, Communists in Harlem During the Depression ( Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1983) 293.
Langston Hughes, "Harlem Suitcase Theatre" documents, ts., cat. #497, LHP-YUBL; "Suitcase Theatre" documents, "Constitution", "Fall Program"; Geneviève Fabre, Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor: Contemporary Afro- American Theatre, trans. Melvin Dixon ( Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1983) 10; John Wray Young, The Community Theatre and How It Works ( New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957) 21.

The financial matters of the Harlem Suitcase Theatre are indicated in various bills such as "Expenditures--Harlem Suitcase Theatre", which Hughes submitted. In Hughes "Statement to Harlem Suitcase Theatre--Initial Expenditures", the costs for the musical director, stage, lighting equipment, sound effects, costumes, props, publicity and miscellaneous items totaled $200.49.

"Suitcase Theatre" documents, "Members"; "Suitcase Theatre" documents, "Administration"1-3. Other committee members included Hilary Phillips, Robert Earl Jones, Dorothy Peterson, Mary Sangigian, Mary Savage, Muriel Unis, Grace Johnson, Hubert Thomas, Dorothy Maynor, and Toy Harper. The theatre also encouraged the inclusion of white participants. One of the "Immediate Problems" faced by the Technical Department was acquiring costumes, props, a screen, a megaphone, and a backdrop for the skits. Arnold Rampersad , The Life of Langston Hughes, Vol. I: 1902-1941, I, Too, Sing America ( New York: Oxford UP, 1986) 356.
"Suitcase Theatre" documents, "Suitcase Theatre Memorandum--May 5, 1938"; "Remaining dates", LHP-YUBL. Hughes's memo to Thompson on May


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Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943


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