In-Class Assignment: Non-Profit Theater in the U.S.

  • Four groups of students form. Each group is assigned ONE of the subject areas below (FTP, Non-profit movement, Public Theatre, and Non-profit on Broadway).
  • Each group should watch/read/listen to the sources in their section and find one ADDITIONAL print source (must appear in a print publication somewhere) to answer the following questions:

What were the most important events and forces from that period that contributed to the formation of non-profit performance culture in the U.S.A.? Who were the main players? Essentially, summarize the information you learned from the readings and videos and links, discussing the most relevant topics: how your specific topics relate to not-for-profit theater in the United States. Since this is an architecture ID, you can also focus on the architecture of theaters. 

  • Work collaboratively and stay in contact with group members. Divide the labor however you like (by topic or by source, for instance). Include main findings in the shared Google Presentation Folder.
  • Include all citations, including the new citation (must be a published source), in your group slide presentation.
  • Each group will have 10 minutes to discuss their findings. Groups should show images and discuss them.

1. The Federal Theatre Project

a. It Can’t Happen Here: FTP: John Apicella

b. Federal Theatre Project in the 1930s: The March of Time

c. Harlem Federal Theatre, Macbeth (Wells, Dir): Archival Footage, YouTube

d. Coast to Coast, The Federal Theater Project. Library of Congress.


2. 1950s-1970s: Nonprofit Theatre Movement in the US

a.     Going National: How America’s Regional Theatre Movement Changed the Game, American Theatre Magazine

b. The Arena Stage Documentary, American Theatre Wing.

c. Circle in the Square, Spotlight on Broadway

d. Off-Broadway, Encyclopedia Britannica

e.  History of the Guthrie Theater, The Guthrie Theater


3.  The Joseph Papp Public Theatre

a. We are one Public, The Public Theatre

b. Joseph Papp in Five Acts, Tucson Jewish Film Project

c. Perez and Eustis Radio Interview, WNYC Radio

d. Astor Library Public Theater, Architectural images (Google slides in course slideshow folder)


4. Relationship between non-profit theatre and Broadway: 

a. American Theatre: Commercial v. non-for profit:

b. Playbill: Off-Broadway, Broadway:

How To Tell Broadway from Off-Broadway from . . . | Playbill

Several members have written asking for a definition of the difference among Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway.

c. Roundabout:



d. THEATER; For Profit or Not, It’s All Showbiz – The New York Times

John Rockwell article on continuing shift in how Broadway shows are produced; notes that while nonprofit theater companies have been producing shows on Broadway since 1971, they are now signing long-term leases on or buying Broadway theaters; notes commercial producers are concerned about unfair competition while nonprofit idealists are worried about nonprofits’ increasing commercialism; photos (L)

e. TONY Awards and nonprofit theatre: AMERICAN THEATRE | Behind (Almost) Every Tony Nominee: a Nonprofit Theatre

Most of today’s Tony-nominated shows got their start on non-commercial stages, either in the U.S. or abroad.