The American Stage and the Great Depression

A Cultural History of the Grotesque

The American Stage and the Great Depression

A study of the 'grotesque' in American theatre of the 1930s.

Censorship of the American Theatre in the Twentieth Century

Censorship of the American Theatre in the Twentieth Century

John Houchin explores the impact of censorship in twentieth-century American theatre, arguing that theatrical censorship coincided with significant challenges to religious, political and cultural systems. The study provides a summary of theatre censorship in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and analyses key episodes from 1900 to 2000. These include attempts to censure Olga Nethersole for her production of Sappho in 1901 and the theatre riots of 1913 that greeted the Abbey Theatre's production of Playboy of the Western World. Houchin explores the efforts to suppress plays in the 1920s that dealt with transgressive sexual material and investigates Congress' politically motivated assaults on plays and actors during the 1930s and 1940s. He investigates the impact of racial violence, political assassinations and the Vietnam War on the trajectory of theatre in the 1960s and concludes by examining the response to gay activist plays such as Angels in America.

The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

The New Deal shaped our nation's politics for decades, and was seen by many as tantamount to the "American Way" itself. Now, in this superb compact history, Eric Rauchway offers an informed account of the New Deal and the Great Depression, illuminating its successes and failures. Rauchway first describes how the roots of the Great Depression lay in America's post-war economic policies--described as "laissez-faire with a vengeance"--which in effect isolated our nation from the world economy just when the world needed the United States most. He shows how the magnitude of the resulting economic upheaval, and the ineffectiveness of the old ways of dealing with financial hardships, set the stage for Roosevelt's vigorous (and sometimes unconstitutional) Depression-fighting policies. Indeed, Rauchway stresses that the New Deal only makes sense as a response to this global economic disaster. The book examines a key sampling of New Deal programs, ranging from the National Recovery Agency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to the Public Works Administration and Social Security, revealing why some worked and others did not. In the end, Rauchway concludes, it was the coming of World War II that finally generated the political will to spend the massive amounts of public money needed to put Americans back to work. And only the Cold War saw the full implementation of New Deal policies abroad--including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Today we can look back at the New Deal and, for the first time, see its full complexity. Rauchway captures this complexity in a remarkably short space, making this book an ideal introduction to one of the great policy revolutions in history. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, and Literary Theory to History. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given topic. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how it has developed and influenced society. Whatever the area of study, whatever the topic that fascinates the reader, the series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

Sex and War on the American Stage

Lysistrata in performance 1930-2012

Sex and War on the American Stage

American adaptations of Aristophanes’ enduring comedy Lysistrata have used laughter to critique sex, war, and feminism for nearly a century. Unlike almost any other play circulating in contemporary theatres, Lysistrata has outlived its classical origins in 411 BCE and continues to shock and delight audiences to this day. The play’s "make love not war" message and bawdy humor render it endlessly appealing to college campuses, activist groups, and community theatres – so much so that none of Aristophanes’ plays are performed in the West as frequently as Lysistrata. Starting with the play’s first mainstream production in the U.S. in 1930, Emily B. Klein explores the varied iterations of Lysistrata that have graced the American stage, page, and screen since the Great Depression. These include the Federal Theatre’s 1936 Negro Repertory production, the 1955 movie musical The Second Greatest Sex and Spiderwoman Theater’s openly political Lysistrata Numbah!, as well as Douglas Carter Beane’s Broadway musical, Lysistrata Jones, and the international Lysistrata Project protests, which updated the classic in the contemporary context of the Iraq War. Although Aristophanes’ oeuvre has been the subject of much classical scholarship, Lysistrata has received little attention from feminist theatre scholars or performance theorists. In response, this book maps current debates over Lysistrata’s dubious feminist underpinnings and uses performance theory, cultural studies, and gender studies to investigate how new adaptations reveal the socio-political climates of their origins. Emily B. Klein is Assistant Professor of English and Drama at Saint Mary's College of California. Her work has appeared in Women and Performance and Frontiers as well as Political and Protest Theater After 9/11: Patriotic Dissent (Routledge, 2012).

The American Stage

The American Stage

This book focuses on the economic and social forces which shaped American theatre throughout its history. Alone or as a collection, these essays, written by leading theatre historians and critics of the American theatre, will stimulate discussions concerning the traditionally held views of America's theatrical heritage.

The Oxford Handbook of American Drama

The Oxford Handbook of American Drama

This volume explores the history of American drama from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. It describes origins of early republican drama and its evolution during the pre-war and post-war periods. It traces the emergence of different types of American drama including protest plays, reform drama, political drama, experimental drama, urban plays, feminist drama and realist plays. This volume also analyzes the works of some of the most notable American playwrights including Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller and those written by women dramatists.

The Cambridge History of American Theatre

The Cambridge History of American Theatre

The second volume of the authoritative, multi-volume Cambridge History of American Theatre, first published in 1999, begins in the post-Civil War period and traces the development of American theatre up to 1945. It covers all aspects of theatre from plays and playwrights, through actors and acting, to theatre groups and directors. Topics examined include vaudeville and popular entertainment, European influences, theatre in and beyond New York, the rise of the Little Theatre movement, changing audiences, modernism, the Federal Theatre movement, scenography, stagecraft, and architecture. Contextualising chapters explore the role of theatre within the context of American social and cultural history, and the role of American theatre in relation to theatre in Europe and beyond. This definitive history of American theatre includes contributions from the following distinguished academics - Thomas Postlewait, John Frick, Tice L. Miller, Ronald Wainscott, Brenda Murphy, Mark Fearnow, Brooks McNamara, Thomas Riis, Daniel J. Watermeier, Mary C. Henderson, and Warren Kliewer.

Chicanas/Latinas in American Theatre

A History of Performance

Chicanas/Latinas in American Theatre

Elizabeth C. Ramírez's study reveals the traditions of Chicanas/Latinas in theatre and performance, showing how Latina/Latino theatre has evolved from its pre-Columbian, Spanish, and Mexican origins to its present prominence within American theatre history. This project on women in performance serves the need for scholarship on the contributions of underrepresented groups in American theatre and education, in cultural studies and the humanities, and in American and world history.

Down and Out in the Great Depression

Letters from the Forgotten Man

Down and Out in the Great Depression

Down and Out in the Great Depression is a moving, revealing collection of letters by the forgotten men, women, and children who suffered through one of the greatest periods of hardship in American history. Sifting through some 15,000 letters from government and private sources, Robert McElvaine has culled nearly 200 communications that best show the problems, thoughts, and emotions of ordinary people during this time. Unlike views of Depression life "from the bottom up" that rely on recollections recorded several decades later, this book captures the daily anguish of people during the thirties. It puts the reader in direct contact with Depression victims, evoking a feeling of what it was like to live through this disaster. Following Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration, both the number of letters received by the White House and the percentage of them coming from the poor were unprecedented. The average number of daily communications jumped to between 5,000 and 8,000, a trend that continued throughout the Rosevelt administration. The White House staff for answering such letters--most of which were directed to FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Harry Hopkins--quickly grew from one person to fifty. Mainly because of his radio talks, many felt they knew the president personally and could confide in him. They viewed the Roosevelts as parent figures, offering solace, help, and protection. Roosevelt himself valued the letters, perceiving them as a way to gauge public sentiment. The writers came from a number of different groups--middle-class people, blacks, rural residents, the elderly, and children. Their letters display emotional reactions to the Depression--despair, cynicism, and anger--and attitudes toward relief. In his extensive introduction, McElvaine sets the stage for the letters, discussing their significance and some of the themes that emerge from them. By preserving their original spelling, syntax, grammar, and capitalization, he conveys their full flavor. The Depression was far more than an economic collapse. It was the major personal event in the lives of tens of millions of Americans. McElvaine shows that, contrary to popular belief, many sufferers were not passive victims of history. Rather, he says, they were "also actors and, to an extent, playwrights, producers, and directors as well," taking an active role in trying to deal with their plight and solve their problems. For this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, McElvaine provides a new foreword recounting the history of the book, its impact on the historiography of the Depression, and its continued importance today.