Essays

Refereed Journal Articles

Theatre History Studies, Volume 31

Theatre History Studies, Volume 31

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Storytelling, Chiggers, and the Bible Belt: The Georgia Experiment as the Public Face of the Federal Theatre Project.” Theatre History Studies 31 (2011), 9-26.

Abstract: This article focuses on the Federal Theatre Project’s Georgia Experiment, a little-known but often publicized activity of the FTP in the southern region which became symbolic of the FTP’s efforts to engage with working class audiences and to develop locally-relevant drama throughout the United States. (Recipient of the Robert A. Schanke Research Award.)

 

Theatre History Studies, volume 29.

Theatre History Studies, volume 29.

 

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Disappearing Frontiers and the National Stage: Placing the Portland Federal Theatre Project.” Theatre History Studies 29 (2009), 103-121.

Abstract: This article examines the heretofore ignored activities of the Portland Oregon, branch of the Federal Theatre Project, and argues that the Portland unit provides a valuable case study for a successful model of FTP activity.

 

 

 

 

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “A Nation in Need: Revelations and Disaster Relief in the Federal Theatre Project.” Journal of American Drama and Theatre 20, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 49-64.

Abstract: The Federal Theatre Project sent a group of traveling performers to perform for flood victims in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1937. In this essay, I argue that this activity, previously overlooked by scholars, was fundamental to the realization of the FTP’s goals on regional and national levels. For the complete essay — and the complete volume! — see http://jadtjournal.org/past-issues/volume-20-issue-2-spring-2008/.

 

Theatre Symposium, 2005

Theatre Symposium, 2005

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Yankee Consternation in the Deep South: Worshipping at the Altars of Steel.Theatre Symposium 13 (2005): 51-67.

Abstract: In this article, I explore how Altars of Steel—a southern social-labor drama described as the FTP’s “most important southern production”—both reflected and challenged the social, political, and economic hegemony of the South, and suggest that these challenges prevented the FTP from laying a solid foundation in the southern region.

 

Refereed Book Chapters

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Dynamo: Hallie Flanagan and the Vassar Experimental Theatre.” Women, Collective Creation, and Devised Performance, edited by Kathryn Syssoyeva and Scott Proudfit. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, 18 manuscript pages. Forthcoming.

Abstract: This essay examines Hallie Flanagan’s founding of and work with the Vassar Experimental Theatre between 1925 and 1942. Influenced by her Guggenheim study abroad, Flanagan’s work with the young women of Vassar College emerged in an environment characterized by the ideal of an artistic collaborative working in collaboration with society toward the common good. I argue that Flanagan’s approach to theatre as a social and creative process empowered both her students and the community, and that Vassar students spread this ideal through the nation.

 

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Imagined Democracy: The Federal Theatre Project Performs (Native) America.” In Experiments in Democracy: Interracial and Cross-Cultural Exchange in American Theatre and Performance, 1912-1945, edited by Jonathan Shandell and Cheryl Black. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 172-190.

Abstract: Focusing on the “First Americans” radio plays, this essay explores the FTP’s uneasy relationship with and representations of native peoples during the 1930s, a pivotal decade for US relations with Native Americans. I argue that the conflicting representations seen in this series demonstrate the long-standing racial tensions that haunted the public imagination, and that this performance of “other” both promoted and undermined the democratic model of self-governance and multiculturalism—an historic “experiment in democracy”—forwarded by the Roosevelt administration.

 

Osborne, Elizabeth A. and Christine Woodworth. “The Work of Play in Performance.” In Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne & Christine Woodworth. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015. 1-20.

Abstract: How do we define work in regards to theatre? How do theatrical performances offer insights into the contemporary social condition? This essay grapples with these questions and more, offering diverse perspectives on the definition of work itself as a way of introduction to the volume.

 

WorkingintheWings

Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, 2015

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Hidden in Plain Sight: Recovering the Federal Theatre Project’s Caravan Theatre.” In Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne & Christine Woodworth. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015. 109-124.

Abstract: In this essay, I explore the work of the FTP’s extraordinarily popular Caravan Theatre. Playing on summer afternoons and evenings to poor and working-class audiences in New York parks, the Caravan Theatre saw weekly audiences of more than 120,000 in their first three-month season. In its second summer, the Caravan Theatre averaged 6,500 per performance and played to 1.9 million people—more than 15% of the total FTP audiences in New York City over its four-year lifetime. These popular entertainments—performances that I argue represent the real work of the FTP—offer a means to dismantle the apparatus that obscures the underlying identity of the FTP as a democratic “people’s theatre.”

 

Osborne, Elizabeth A. “Waiting in the Wings: Work.” In Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne & Christine Woodworth. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015. 225-231.

Abstract: This concluding essay draws together the major themes of the book while posing larger historiographical questions about the nature of theatrical work and its place within theatre, scholarship, and society, and challenging theatre scholars to make interdisciplinary connections across many fields.