Magic Project Interrogating the History of Black Theater Launches with Virtual Event

March 12, 2021
The 1936 production of “Stevedore” by George Sklar and Paul Peter, which explored the confluence of class and racial prejudice. Image courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collection Division, UW Theatres Photograph Collection.

On March 30, the Humanities Council Magic Project “Interrogating History: The Classical Black Theater Canon,” a partnership of the Lewis Center for the Arts and the New-York based collective CLASSIX, launches a year-long initiative to promote engagement with rarely performed classic Black plays.

The virtual kick-off event “A Past Becomes a Heritage: The Negro Units of the Federal Theater Project” will feature recorded readings of plays written for what were then referred to as the Negro Units of the Federal Theater Project, which was established by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression. The “Negro Units,” created in 23 cities around the country, performed live theater while providing employment to artists. The collaboration between CLASSIX and Princeton is led by Jane Cox, Director of the Lewis Center’s Program in Theater.

Coming up in the fall, as part of the continuing Princeton-CLASSIX partnership, is a virtual all-day symposium on September 10, “′Shuffle Along’ and the Tulsa Race Massacre: A Centennial Symposium.” Stacy Wolf, Professor of Theater and American Studies, and Director of the Program in Music Theater, and Catherine Young, a lecturer in the Writing Program, are co-leading the fall event, along with the CLASSIX team.

Future projects in discussion include an oral history project, with students helping to gather the recollections of theater makers, and a new course cross-listed in the Program in Theater and Program in Humanistic Studies focused on performing the archive, Living Newspapers theater and documentary theater.

Read the full article on the University homepage.

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