Birth of The Federal Theatre Project — Coast to Coast
National in scope but regional in emphasis, the FTP was composed of many different units in charge of stage presentations in specific geographic areas. Larger nationally overarching units were responsible for the general administration of a sizable federal bureaucracy, which employed more than 12,000 people within 150 regional administrative units that produced more than 2,700 stage productions.
National Director Hallie Flanagan (1890–1969) administered the FTP from Washington, D.C., under the oversight of Harry Hopkins (1890–1946), director of the Works Project Administration and one of President Roosevelt’s closest advisers. The United States was divided into numerous theater regions that provided professional and technical direction for a nationwide program. The Federal Theatre Policy Board, which met every four months, decided on policies and selected plays and performances for the upcoming months. At the meetings, the regional directors presented reports from their state and local directors, allowing a pooling of local, state, and regional ideas.
Projects were set up in cities and towns in the majority of the states—Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and in Washington, D.C. Performances toured to virtually every corner of the nation—coast to coast—often traveling to rural areas where live theater was seldom seen, with some shows performed outdoors using portable stages.
View all items from Birth of The Federal Theatre Project — Coast to Coast »