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Federal Theater Project

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Federal Theater Project Poster


The Federal Theatre Project was a New Deal program, sponsored by the WPA, to fund theatre and other live artistic performances and entertainment programs. It was active from 1935 to 1939. It was created as a relief measure to employ artists, writers, directors and theater workers. This 1937 play “Machine Age,” about mass production, was one of the many titles criticized by members of Congress.  

This play's questioning of mass production and the modernization of manufacturing is directly related to tractors and the modernization of farming as depicted in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. The 1930s were a time of change and modernization and many people didn’t see this push towards technology as a good thing. The use of machines and technology were seen as a disconnect between people and their environment. The farmer that no longer works the land with their hands and doesn’t actually know what their crops look like is something that people are wary of.