The Playgoer: The Dream of the Federal Theatre Project

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Friday, April 13, 2007

The Dream of the Federal Theatre Project

"This theatre is your theatre. You are responsible for its creation and its progress."

Even your stoic Playgoer choked up a bit at reading these words I came upon in some recent research, at the bottom of an original program for the 1936 WPA presentation of Orson Welles' "Voodoo Macbeth."

A stirring mantra, for then and for now.

1 comment:

nick said...

According to the propaganda of this government newsreel footage, the production was the work of the "Negro Theatre Unit" of the WPA project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZLrqJka-EU

The production ends here with Hectate (witch doctor) and his Voodoo Doll over Macbeth's severed head. "The charm's wound up!" Amateur and hokey, but if these "actors" were real practitioners of Voodoo, that would be a different game. One story said the actors had sacrificed some goats for the production. These goat skins were then stretched into the drums that the ensemble played throughout the run and tour of the show. Supposedly a New York critic who negatively reviewed the show was subject to some Voodoo and died during its run.

So this production really lived up to the Scottish play's curse.