Monday, July 19, 2010

Injunction Granted

"A chronicle of Labor Activity in the United States," Injunction Granted opened in July, 1936 at the Biltmore Theatre in New York and became a flashpoint for criticism of the entire Federal Theater Project. Project Director Hallie Flanagan always supported this play in public, and in fact defended its existence before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

In private however, she had requested - prior to opening - that the writers "clean up the script and make it more objective" which they did not do, and after opening night wrote a terse letter reading in part:
... you are allowing your own personal beliefs to endanger the idea idea of the living newspaper ...

... The production seems to me to be a special pleading, biased, an editorial not a news issue. (Witness the one-sided treatment of the CIO rally; the voice reading Hoover; the scene showing judges asleep, etc. etc.)"
And she was right. To call it a factual representation of the issues is entirely inaccurate. Injunction Granted is actually an editorial cartoon, taking quotes out of context, placed into the mouths of characters who are presented in the broadest terms possible - including a silent, Harpo Marx-like "CLOWN" (that's the character's name) who comments on all of the proceedings, making what is already obvious glaringly so.

Have I utilized such broad satire in my own work? Of course I have. But when so many people's livelihoods were assisted through this federal works project, it seems in hindsight to be horribly selfish to put them into jeopardy in this obnoxious fashion.

Source: "Liberty Deferred" and other Living Newspaper os the Federal Theatre Project

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