Federal Theatre Plays

Federal Theatre Plays

Federal Theatre Plays

Federal Theatre Plays

Excerpt

Government support of the theatre brings the United States into the best historic theatre tradition and into the best contemporary theatre practice. Four centuries before Christ, Athens believed that plays were worth paying for out of public money; today France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Italy and practically all other civilized countries appropriate money for the theatre.

However, it was not because of historic theatre tradition nor because of contemporary theatre practice that the Federal Theatre came into being. It came into being because in the summer of 1935 the relief rolls of American cities showed that thousands of unemployed theatre professionals, affected not only by economic depression but by the rapid development of the cinema and the radio, were destitute. The Federal Theatre came into being because the Government of the United States took the position that the talents of these professional theatre workers, together with the skills of painters, musicians and writers, made up a part of the national wealth which America could not afford to lose.

Therefore, on August 29, 1935, the Federal Theatre Project, a branch of the Works Progress Administration, under Harry Hopkins, was set up.

The story of how these theatre workers--actors, directors, designers, writers, dancers, musicians, technicians receiving only the small security wage set by Congress, with no stellar billings, and in the face of polite or impolite public amusement--leapt to meet their chance, is a drama more exciting than any which has yet reached our stage.

It is not only the story of the three hit plays in this . . .

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