Read it out loud : the construction of Southern identity within the living newspaper plays of the Federal Theatre Project.


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Utilizing Benedict Anderson’s concept of community and nation, this study looks at how the American South was portrayed within the interwar years, specifically by or within the living newspaper plays of the Federal Theater Project. The criteria set forth by various critics from the time define the aspects of identity needed to create a representation of the South from a non-Southern perspective. The first set of plays that are analyzed are all products of the New York Unit: Triple-A Plowed Under, Power, and The South. The final living newspaper discussed is King Cotton, a regional piece written by the unit at Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Though written by non-Southerners, the style is distinctly of the region. This play offers a more authentic look at Southern identity through the blending of two forms of drama: living newspapers and folk plays.



Federal Theatre Project. Southern identity. Living newspaper. King Cotton. WPA. FTP. Mencken.