Osborne, Elizabeth A. Staging the People: Community and Identity in the Federal Theatre Project. Studies in Theatre and Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2011.
Synopsis: The Federal Theatre Project stands alone as the only national theatre in the history of the United States. This study re-imagines this vital moment in American history, considering the Federal Theatre Project on its own terms – as a “federation of theatres” designed to stimulate new audiences and create locally-relevant theatre during the turbulent 1930s. It integrates a wealth of previously undiscovered archival materials with cultural history, delving into regional activities in Chicago, Boston, Portland, Atlanta, and Birmingham, as well as tours of refugee camps and Civilian Conservation Corps Divisions. For a brief, exhilarating moment, the Federal Theatre Project created a democratic theatre that staged the American people.
Order your copy of Staging the People: Community and Identity in the Federal Theatre Project at Amazon.com!
Endorsements of Staging the People:
“Osborne’s research into the life – and unfortunately, the death – of the Federal Theatre Project (FTP) goes well beyond the project itself. She reveals the full scope of the cultural environment in which the grand experiment existed and shows the ways in which that environment contributed to the theater’s successes and failures…It is difficult to avoid being swept along by her obvious enthusiasm for her subject.”
~New York Journal of Books
“In this fresh and objective study of the Federal Theatre Project, the messy, complex realities are every bit as compelling as the popular myths we grew up with. Osborne’s allusion to that four-year chapter of American theatre history as ‘turbulent and exhilarating’ applies also to the discoveries she makes and to the picture that emerges from her focus on the regional as the matrix for understanding what the project truly contributed toward the ideal of a national theatre.”
~Felicia Hardison Londré, Curators’ Professor of Theatre
University of Missouri-Kansas City
“Osborne’s research is meticulous and her writing is clear and graceful. But what makes this book so compelling is the way she reverses the core and periphery of Federal Theatre production. In foregrounding the lesser known repertoire, she broadens the landscape of our research and pays homage to Hallie Flanagan’s desire for a truly national theatre.”
~Barry B. Witham, Professor Emeritus of Theatre History
University of Washington
“Osborne’s argument is persuasive and her subject is heretofore largely unexplored. Throughout she draws heavily on the archive, and as such pulls into consideration a plethora of primary sources that for too long have been (to borrow her words) ‘hidden in plain sight.’ I believe this book can be considered a significant contribution to the study of American theatre history.”
~Jonathan Chambers, Associate Professor of Theatre,
Bowling Green State University
Reviews of Staging the People:
Amy Brady. Staging the People: Community and Identity in the Federal Theatre Project, by Elizabeth A. Osborne (review). Theatre Survey, 54 (2013): 464-466.
Jonathan Chambers. “Review of Staging the People: Community and Identity in the Federal Theatre Project, by Elizabeth A. Osborne.” Theatre History Studies 34 (2015): 105-108.
M. A. David. Staging the People: Community and Identity in the Federal Theatre Project (review). New York Journal of Books. 2011. http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/staging-people-community-and-identity-federal-theatre-project
Angela Sweigart-Gallagher. Staging the People: Community and Identity in the Federal Theatre Project, by Elizabeth A. Osborne (review). Theatre Journal, 65 (2013): 448-449.
Osborne, Elizabeth A. & Christine Woodworth, Eds. Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor. Theater in the Americas Series. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015.
Synopsis: Theatre has long been an art form of subterfuge and concealment. Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor brings attention to what goes on behind-the-scenes, challenging and revising our understanding of work, theatre, and history.
Essays consider a range of historic moments and geographic locations—from African Americans’ performance of the cakewalk in Florida’s resort hotels during the Gilded Age to the UAW Union Theatre and striking automobile workers in post–World War II Detroit to the creative struggle in the latter part of the twentieth century to finish an adaptation of Moby Dick for the stage before the memory of creator, Rinde Eckert, fails. Contributors incorporate methodologies and theories from fields as diverse as theatre history, work studies, legal studies, economics, and literature and draw on traditional archival materials, including performance texts and architectural structures, as well as less tangible material traces of stagecraft.
Working in the Wings looks at the ways in which workers’ identities are shaped, influenced, and dictated by what they do; the traces left behind by workers whose contributions have been overwritten; the intersections between the sometimes repetitive and sometimes destructive process of creation and the end result—the play or performance; and the ways in which theatre affects the popular imagination. This collected volume draws attention to the significance of work in the theatre, encouraging a fresh examination of this important subject in the history of the theatre and beyond.
Order your copy of Working in the Wings: New Perspective on Theatre History and Labor at Amazon.com!
Endorsements of Working in the Wings:
“The decline of industrial labor unions, the turmoil among public workers’ associations, the economic collapse of 2007-8, the marketing of ‘right to work’ as a positive benefit, and the increased salary discrepancy between workers and executives have all coalesced to ignite a reconsideration of ‘work’ across labor sites and academic disciplines. Working in the Wings injects theatre and performance into this discourse by foregrounding the work of backstage laborers and assessing how theatre work contributes to cultural myths in the public imagination. Working in the Wings is not only a timely book; it is an important one.”
~Barry B. Witham, Professor Emeritus of Theatre History
University of Washington
Reviews of Working in the Wings
“Anyone with a basic understanding of theatre production is already aware of its laborious demands.Instead of reexamining common knowledge or becoming a collection of Marxist critical readings, these scholarly essays attempt to lay out the beginnings of many new paths for exploration into the field and history of theatre makers. Editors Osborne and Woodworth show that there is much to be discovered.”
American Theatre Magazine
David Bisaha. Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne and Christine Woodworth (review). Theatre Annual 70 (2017): 88-90.
Stacey Connelly. Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne and Christine Woodworth (review). Theatre History Studies 36 (2017): 323-325.
Christin Essin. Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne and Christine Woodworth (review). Theatre Journal 68, no. 4 (December 2016): 694-695.
Michael Schwartz. Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor, edited by Elizabeth A. Osborne and Christine Woodworth (review). Modern Drama 59, no. 2 (2016): 258-260.
Osborne, Elizabeth A., O’ Hara, Michael, and Judith Sebesta. Explore Theatre (2nd edition). Pearson, Revel Digital Platform, 2020. Check out more info here!
Explore Theatre is a fully digital introduction to theatre that gets students excited about what’s happening onstage around the world today. Authors Michael O’Hara, Elizabeth Osborne, and Judith Sebesta present thorough coverage of both theatre history and recent dramatic and musical works. Seamless integration of engaging videos and interactive content throughout the narrative turns students into digital audience members who can better grasp the relationships between text, actor, and audience. The 2nd Edition includes updated videos, interactives, and examples drawn from recent hit productions such as Hamilton and Fun Home. I joined Michael and Judy for the second edition, and focused on revisions to the text and interactive quiz and test questions.