Federal Theater Project
   Created under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935, the Federal Theater Project, led by Hallie Flanagan of the experimental theater at Vassar College, was established to provide employment for those in theater. At its height, the project employed almost 13,000 people nationwide. The biggest concentration, with 31 production units, was in New York City, but plays and broadcasts were put on in almost all parts of the country. In total, 250,000 performances were given in 110 cities to audiences totaling 150 million people. Among the most famous productions was the 1936 Negro Peoples’ Theater version of Macbeth directed by Orson Welles and set in Haiti. The Living Newspaper provided dramatic comment on current events and developments. The production of Sinclair Lewis’s antifascist play It Can’t Happen Here was shown successfully in 22 cities. Always controversial, the project was often attacked by its critics as an extravagant, left-wing organization, and it was finally ended by Congress in 1939.
   See also Federal One; Literature and theater.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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