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(Re)reading 1930s Broadway Theatre
Jacksonville, FL, March 2001


52nd Annual Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC)

History/Theory/Criticism/Literature Interest Group

Jacksonville, Florida (March 14-18, 2001)

(Re)reading 1930s Broadway Theatre

Mainstream theatrical entertainment during the 1930s has been neglected
and rendered insignificant by many contemporary scholars. It is the
history surrounding those politically and socially motivated companies
like the Group Theatre, the Theatre Union, the Theatre Collective, the
Theatre of Action and the Federal Theatre Project (In particular, its
Living Newspapers) that continues to define New York theater of the
thirties. As scholar Sam Smiley has written, the new and radical theater
organizations of the thirties were "a minority within the profession" as
most "playwrights, then as now, chose to grapple for financial gain by
composing commercial entertainment rather than create art or participate
in politics." It is my contention, however, that one can learn a lot about
a culture from its "commercial entertainment," especially when seeking to
uncover the sociopolitical nuances that such works may have attempted to
render mute or imperceptible.

Paper proposals (300-500 words) will be expected to address how successful
Broadway plays and musicals of the period did engage (however furtively)
significant issues of race, gender, sexuality and class. Proposals may
also explore how Broadway productions of the 1930s attempted to deny such
issues in order to legitimize and reproduce the beliefs and opinions of
the majority culture. All topics and theoretical approaches are welcome.

Please send proposals to the following e-mail address no later than August
10, 2000:

Jeff Turner

Division of Fine Arts
Department of Theatre Studies
Maryville College
502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, Tennessee 37804