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Photographic Print from New York production of Macbeth, 1936

[Detail] Photographic Print from New York production of Macbeth, 1936

Themes in Federal Theatre Project Productions | Interpretations of Macbeth | Create a Production | Newspaper Reviews | Persuasive Writing

The playscripts, production notebooks, reviews, and photographs in The New Deal Stage: Selections from the Federal Theatre Project, 1935-1939, provide an in-depth look at all aspects of a theatrical production, providing a basis for several creative projects. Although this collection is not currently searchable, sixty-eight complete playscripts are available for interpretation and performance. Synopses of numerous other plays, as well as reviews and publicity materials, also are available in this collection.

Themes in Federal Theatre Project Productions

This collection contains 68 digitized Federal Theatre Project playscripts ranging from new pieces such as Andrew Barton’s The Disappointment to works by Gilbert & Sullivan and William Shakespeare. The administrative documents in this collection include play synopses from the West region of the FTP. These descriptions are divided alphabetically ("A to H” “I to P” and “Q to Z”) and provide detailed information about the narratives and themes of each play. Examples include dramas such as the back-to-Africa tragedy Big White Fog, Strife, a “struggle between capital and labor . . . in the strike area of a mining town in Wales,” and comedies such as The Very Great Man, in which “a clever schemer and high pressure public relations expert, performs miracles with his clients because he knows the value of high power advertising.”

  • What themes appear in the contemporary pieces?
  • What types of social and political ideas appear in these pieces?
  • How do these contemporary themes compare to themes found in revived classics?
  • Are there differences in theme between comedy and tragedy?
  • Which plays sound most interesting to you? Why?