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Vaudeville

Vaudeville productions of the Federal Theatre Project were under the supervision of the Variety Unit. This unit was able to hire many unemployed vaudevillians and variety entertainers whose form of theater had gone into eclipse in the face of competition from films and radio. During the first fifteen months of the FTP, twenty-four percent of the program’s activities involved vaudeville. FTP vaudeville shows, such as Ready! Aim! Fire!, often differed from traditional or classic vaudeville in that they did not adhere to the format of strictly sequential individual acts. Rather they were more akin to musical revues with series of interrelated acts or sequences with connecting themes. The Variety Unit was a significant part of FTP and attracted large and diverse audiences, including the very young. It was seen across the country at large and small theaters, at schools and hospitals, and often outdoors in municipal parks.

Richard Halls. Federal WPA Variety Presents Vaudeville, 1936 or 1937. Silkscreen poster. Federal Theatre Project Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (029.00.00)
Digital ID # ftp0029

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Now You See Her . . .

Vaudeville productions of the Federal Theatre Project were under the supervision of the Variety Unit. This unit was able to hire many unemployed vaudevillians and variety entertainers whose form of theater had gone into eclipse in the face of competition from films and radio. During the first fifteen months of the FTP, twenty-four percent of the program’s activities involved vaudeville. FTP vaudeville shows, such as Ready! Aim! Fire!, often differed from traditional or classic vaudeville in that they did not adhere to the format of strictly sequential individual acts. Rather they were more akin to musical revues with series of interrelated acts or sequences with connecting themes. The Variety Unit was a significant part of FTP and attracted large and diverse audiences, including the very young. It was seen across the country at large and small theaters, at schools and hospitals, and often outdoors in municipal parks.

Vaudeville magic act, July 1, 1936. Photogprah. Federal Theatre Project Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (031.00.00)
Digital ID # ftp0031

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/federal-theatre-project/vaudeville.html#obj1

Vaudeville Showgirl

Vaudeville productions of the Federal Theatre Project were under the supervision of the Variety Unit. This unit was able to hire many unemployed vaudevillians and variety entertainers whose form of theater had gone into eclipse in the face of competition from films and radio. During the first fifteen months of the FTP, twenty-four percent of the program’s activities involved vaudeville. FTP vaudeville shows, such as Ready! Aim! Fire!, often differed from traditional or classic vaudeville in that they did not adhere to the format of strictly sequential individual acts. Rather they were more akin to musical revues with series of interrelated acts or sequences with connecting themes. The Variety Unit was a significant part of FTP and attracted large and diverse audiences, including the very young. It was seen across the country at large and small theaters, at schools and hospitals, and often outdoors in municipal parks.

Ready! Aim! Fire! showgirl, 1937. Photogprah. Federal Theatre Project Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (033.00.00)
Digital ID # ftp0033

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/federal-theatre-project/vaudeville.html#obj2

Fostering Talent

This set design created by John Stewart Morcom (1906–1988) is thought to be for an unidentified vaudeville production. Typical of the level of talent that was fostered through FTP, Morcom had a successful later career. He worked on a number of prestigious productions including the Orson Welles 1941 stage production of Native Son by famed African American writer Richard Wright. He also designed for the New York City Ballet and was art director for the Radio City Music Hall from 1950 until his retirement in 1973.

John Morcom. Set design for a vaudeville production, between 1935 and 1939. Ink, watercolor, and tempura. Federal Theatre Project Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (034.00.00)
Digital ID # ftp0034

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/federal-theatre-project/vaudeville.html#obj3

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