Thursday, October 13, 2011


…As an extension of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, the Federal Theatre Project (FTP) was launched on August 27, 1935 with a mandate to “initiate a plan to provide employment for actors.” Gilmore Brown, Founder/Director of the Pasadena Playhouse, was selected to be Regional Director for the West. Brown gave Angelenos steady helpings of Shakepeare (i.e. Max Pollak’s acclaimed 1937 staging of Macbeth at Downtown’s Mayan Theatre) and children’s plays, including an adaptation of the Humperdinck opera, Hansel and Gretel, at the long gone Beux Arts Theatre. Brown’s family-friendly production policy was in contrast to the more politically and socially controversial East Coast projects being staged by the Group Theatre, Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and others. On June 30, 1939, the FTP ended when its funding was canceled, largely attributed to strong Congressional objections to the overtly left-wing political tones of many FTP productions. However, in March 1975, another attempt at Federally funded actors subsidies was initiated by the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) which endowed the City of Los Angeles with enough funds to create Theatre Arts Program/Los Angeles (TAPLA).

Administered by the City’s Recreation and Parks Department, five performing arts ensembles (three acting companies, a dance ensemble and a puppet theatre) roamed the town, performing at schools, senior citizens centers, recreation centers, festivals, etc. Though never enjoying the comfort of a home performing space, TAPLA gave over 5000 free public peformances before being dissolved in 1979. Along the way, steady employment was enjoyed by hundreds of performers, including such local thesps as David Ankrum, David Arkin Al Alu, Hali Burton, Tony Caruso, Marilyn Child, Virgil Curry, Marci Donley, Don Hamner, Paul Hansen, Will Hutchins, Roger Kern, Michael Macready, Melora Marshall, Mona Marshall, Kathleen Mazzola, George McDaniel, Gigi Perreau, Hugh Reilly, Toni Lawrence, Julio Martinez to name a few.

1 comment:

Chatty Crone said...

Well unemployment has hit the US big time - wonder how that equates to the Hollywood Stars?