Breakout #5: THE PLAYBOOK: A STORY OF THEATER, DEMOCRACY, AND THE MAKING OF A CULTURE

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From 1935 to 1939, the Federal Theatre Project staged over a thousand productions in twenty-nine states that were seen by thirty million (or nearly one in four) Americans, two-thirds of whom had never seen a play before. It employed over twelve thousand struggling artists, some of whom, like Orson Welles and Arthur Miller, would soon be famous, but most of whom were just ordinary people eager to work again. And yet, the Federal Theatre was the first New Deal project to be attacked and ended on the grounds that it promoted “un-American” activity, sowing the seeds not only for the McCarthyism of the 1950s but also for our own era of merciless polarization. Celebrated Shakespeare scholar JAMES SHAPIRO will talk to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright AYAD AKHTAR about this little-known but important slice of history and what it tells us about the enduring power of the theater as perhaps our most democratic art form.

July 21
10:30 am — 11:30 am

TBD

Ayad Akhtar, James Shapiro

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