From the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, theatre artists for the first time created productions engaging social concerns. Not only did writers, directors, designers, actors, and choreographers want to be considered artists rather than mere entertainers, but they understood that theatre-as a uniquely powerful communication mode–could impact change in the larger community by addressing social ills on the stage.
The Federal Theatre Project was not originally created with these goals in mind, but over the four years of its existence it became a place for playwrights to voice concerns they had about contemporary issues, such as labor, housing, free speech, and voting rights. Read all sections and view images from all sections of this exhibit: The Show Must Go On. Once you have completed your tour of the exhibit-working with your research partner-choose one section from the exhibit and summarize the contents in your own words. (3 sentences.) From here, view the Library of Congress’ exhibition on the Federal Theatre Project: FTP. Locate a poster of one of Sinclair Lewis’ productions of “It Can’t Happen Here” that is particularly striking (contains images that are symbolic and compelling). What is the message being conveyed by the poster? Start by describing the image in detail and then write two sentences interpreting it. It will help if you use the Wikipedia entry on the book/play in order to understand its premise.