Six Plays for Young People From the Federal Theatre Project (1936-1939)
An Introductory Analysis and Six Representative PlaysBook - 1986
The subject of Swortzell's book is a selection of plays created by the Children's Theatre units of the Federal Theatre Project. . . . Most of the six plays in Swortzell's anthology resonate with political messages integral to the post-Depression, post-World War I era. . . . Though some of the scripts, like Chorpenning's "A Letter to Santa Clause," which is an indictment of war, and Yasha Frank's "Pinocchio," which celebrates the rewards of a virtuous life, hammer away at theme to the point of becoming tedious, the plays written and performed during this brief heydey in the history of children's theatre reveal just how far the genre could move beyond the narrow focus and prescribed subjects which once defined its boundaries. "Children's Literature Association Quarterly"
The plays published here were originally commissioned by the Federal Theatre Project (FTP) of the Works Progress Administration. Editor Lowell Swortzell has selected six plays representative of the reportory of the children's theatre productions of the FTP and reprinted them in their entirety. The plays, whether original scripts or adaptations of fairy tales and folklore, emphasized both educational and entertainment value. The plays are preceded by an extensive introduction detailing the history and goals of the children's theatre unit.
The plays are: "Horse Play" by Dorothy Hailparn, a comedy from the Negro Unit of New York City; "Flight" by Oscar Saul and Louis Lantz, a documentary play in the style of the "Living Newspaper"; "The Boiled Eggs" by Rught Fenisong, a comedy form the Marionette Unit of New York City; "The Revolt of the Beavers" by Oscar Saul and Louis Lantz, a controversial fable from Broadway; "A Letter to Santa Claus" by Charlotte Chorpenning, an anti-war Christmas pantomine produced as a gift to the children of Chicago; and "Pinocchio," a popular adaptation first produced in Los Angeles, then transferred to Broadway.