American Theatre Companies, 1931-1986

American Theatre Companies, 1931-1986

American Theatre Companies, 1931-1986

American Theatre Companies, 1931-1986

Synopsis

"Because of its contemporary coverage, this volume is particularly interesting and useful. . . . Reference collections that deal with theater questions could find it a good source even without its two predecessor volumes, but the set as a whole is recommended." Choice

Excerpt

American Theatre Companies, 1931-1986 is the third and final book in a series of three providing essential facts about resident acting companies in the United States.

The breakdown of the world economy in the late 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s eliminated all but a few commercial troupes in the United States. A handful of noncommercial groups and workers' theatres also survived the economic collapse. In 1935 the federal government established the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), a work-relief program wherein dozens of acting companies were assembled and put to work in cities all over the country. The FTP died in 1939, the victim of a Congress annoyed by the Left-leaning political posture of the project's managers and artistic decision-makers. The demise of the FTP was tantamount to the death of the resident acting company in America.

The resurrection of this mode of organization began at the end of World War II as a few art theatres and community theatres gathered the financial and organizational strength to support a company of actors working year-round. The revival gathered force in the fifties, under the leadership of a generation of visionary and dauntless founders and managers. In the mid-1960s the Ford Foundation gave crucial, life-giving support to struggling companies. Dozens of new companies sprang up in the seventies, inspired by the success of organizations in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, California, and Dallas and Houston, Texas. Resident theatre companies radically altered the American theatre by decentralizing it. Moreover, the nonprofit commercial organizations that sustained the resident acting companies became vital elements in the cultural renaissance sweeping the United States. They have taken their place in the cultural life of major and smaller cities alongside new or revitalized ballet and opera companies, symphonies, museums, and galleries.

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