2019 Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939): context & enjeux, Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University

ISGS VP Emeline Jouve (front center) with conference co-organizer Geraldine Prévôt (Paris-Nanterre Université); ISGS President Noelia Hernando-Real and members Linda Ben-Zvi (second row), Jeffery Kennedy and Drew Eisenhauer (third row)

In October 2019, the ISGS co-sponsored, along with the American Theatre and Drama Society, a Conference on the Federal Theatre Project in France at Toulouse Université Jean Jaurès.

The International Susan Glaspell Society was excited to sponsor a panel on the role Susan Glaspell and her fellow members of the Provincetown Players had in the development of the Federal Theatre Project. While the Federal Theatre Project stands as an original adventure in the history of American theatre and drama, it is also true that former theatrical experiments led the way to its creation. The achievements of the Provincetown Players, created with the main goal of finding – and encouraging – new American plays, reverberated in Hallie Flanagan’s theatrical plan for the Federal Theatre project in the 1930s. Indeed, this is why, as Glaspell biographers have noted, Susan Glaspell accepted the role of Chair of the Midwestern Bureau from September 1936 to April 1938. She saw in the Federal Theatre Project the chance to continue, renew, and improve what she felt was Jig Cook’s, and her own, theatrical dream and legacy.

The ISGS Panel featured papers by

  • Noelia Hernando-Real (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “The Provincetown Players and the Federal Theatre: The Essay Susan Glaspell Never Wrote”
  • Linda Ben-Zvi (Professor Emerita Tel Aviv University): “A Pioneering Playwright for a Pioneering  Job: Susan Glaspell, Spirochete, and the Midwest Bureau of the Federal Theatre Project”
  • Drew Eisenhauer (Université de Strasbourg): “Alfred Kreymborg: Federal Troubador”

Following the panel, the ISGS hosted a convivial cocktail hour.

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