Power, a living newspaper from the Federal Theatre Project
This will be used as part of a larger term paper. Please use two of the source books that I have already found on the topic:
The Americanization of the Soviet Living Newspaper by Lynn Mally
The preface of Liberty Deferred and Other Living Newspapers of the 1930’s Federal Theatre Project edited by Lorraine Brown
Staging Strikes: Workers’ Theatre and the American Labor Movement by Colette A. Hyman
Striking Performances/Performing Strikes by Kirk W. Fuoss.
The introductory section reads:
The interwar period saw a great political and economic upheaval, particularly in the United States. The Great Depression brought about the most severe economic downturn to date, placing millions of Americans in vulnerable and desperate positions. After the disastrous Hoover administration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt formed the New Deal program to revive the economy and the spirit of the American people. Audiences, primed with desperation, were moved to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in camaraderie during these unimaginably difficult times.
The electricity that pervades a bonding moment is undeniable. In a single interaction, people can go from strangers to comrades. Theatre is an especially good medium for utilizing this phenomenon. Labor theatre explicitly seeks to use this phenomenon to move audience members to political action. This form, which emerged from the interwar period in the United States, was particularly apt at tapping into the sense of community in its audiences. While there isnt exactly an excess of living newspapers or labor plays circulating now, the form remains effective at preparing audiences to take political action by instilling a sense of community amongst both insider and outsider populations. Theatre is an effective tool to ready audiences for political action. Some plays exist to rally a community. Some exist to radicalize the masses. They all achieve this goal a little bit differently.
The Federal Theatre Project was created to ensure the survival of the theatre arts during this period of economic downturn. This government program, as well as several academic and community organizations, came to generate what is now known as labor theatre, a genre by and for those who produce the value of society: the working class.
The conclusion as of now reads:
A. The United States was forced to its feet in the Second World War, which ushered in an era of inordinate prosperity. The counterculture revolted but was ultimately assimilated into the mainstream. Workers unity lost its appeal as U.S. citizens began to prefer the shiny, new, hyper-individualistic American Dream. Powerful financial players have coopted democracy, and there is little gain in the political game, an empty, bureaucratic ritual.
B. Nevertheless, the labor theatre genre should not be abandoned. As of today, we find ourselves in a time of great political upheaval. The Black Lives Matter and reproductive justice movements are proving that people can come together, even internationally, for a cause. This and opportunities like it should not be underestimated. The working class can and should be mobilized against the profit-motivated ruling class. As seen in Lefty, labor theatre is a proven tool to unite audiences and move them to action. At the very least, we should always be trying to plant the seeds of the idea.