Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal
Between 1935 and 1939, the United States government paid out-of-work artists to write, act, and stage theatre as part of the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), a New Deal job relief program. In segregated "Negro Units" set up under the FTP, African American artists took on theatre work usually reserved for whites, staged black versions of "white" classics, and developed radical new dramas. In this fresh history of the FTP Negro Units, Kate Dossett examines what she calls the black performance community—a broad network of actors, dramatists, audiences, critics, and community activists—who made and remade black theatre manuscripts for the Negro Units and other theatre companies from New York to Seattle.
Tracing how African American playwrights and troupes developed these manuscripts and how they were then contested, revised, and reinterpreted, Dossett argues that these texts constitute an archive of black agency, and understanding their history allows us to consider black dramas on their own terms. The cultural and intellectual labor of black theatre artists was at the heart of radical politics in 1930s America, and their work became an important battleground in a turbulent decade.
Race and Realism in Stevedore
Exposing the Mask in Black Living Newspapers
John Henry and Bigger Thomas from Page to Stage
Theodore Wards Big White Fog
Plays That Turn Out Well for Harlem
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Abram Hill African Americans Afro American Amsterdam archive Arts atre audience Big White Fog black actors black Americans black community black dramas black Federal Theatre black heroes black Living Newspapers black performance communities Black Theater U.S.A. black theatre manuscripts black-authored Browne’s Chicago Defender Chicago Negro Unit communist developed director Episode eral Theatre federal theatre manuscripts Federal Theatre Project FTP-LOC FTP’s Go Down Moses Gus Smith Haiti Haitian Hallie Flanagan Harlem Negro Unit Hartford Negro Unit Hatch interracial interview John Henry labor Last Version Lavery Lavery’s Liberty Deferred Living Newspaper lynching Macbeth man’s NAACP National Negro Theatre OHC-GMU play playreading political race racial radical black realism revised Rex Ingram Richard Wright role scene Schomburg script Seattle Seattle Negro Unit Silvera stage Stars and Bars Stevedore suggested Theatre Union Theatre’s Theodore Browne Theodore Ward tion Unit’s Vic’s Ward’s white critics workers