Theatre History - Post World War II America

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In History
  • HUAC Formed

    HUAC Formed
    Fear of communism during World War II, and later the Cold War with the Soviet Union leads to the House Committee on Un-American Activities led by Senator McCarthy. Many Hollywood actors, writers, and professionals are blacklisted for assumed connections to communism. Some find their way to Broadway.

    Rodgers and Hammerstein II's first major collaboration debuts on Broadway and is a smashing success, running for over 2,000 performances.
  • "Carmen Jones"

    "Carmen Jones"
    After his success with "Oklahoma!," Hammerstein II turned to another project - remaking Bizet's French opera "Carmen" and setting it in the American South, cast with all black actors. Beginning in 1943 and running until 1945, it is a success. This brings about a brief but impressive run of similar shows - leading to five times the number of black performers since before WW II.
  • World War II Ends

    World War II Ends
    The War began on September 1, 1939, and America entered the war on December 7, 1941. It officially ends with the Japanese delegation's formal signing of the instrument of surrender on board the USS Missouri.
  • Things change slower in America than Europe...

    Things change slower in America than Europe...
    The economy is booming. Optimism is high, and introspection low. Perhaps, for this reason, theatre does not change in the same way it does in Europe. The slow change could also be attributed to catering to ticket buyers or fear of the HUAC.
  • "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the Actor's Studio

    "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the Actor's Studio
    Marlon Brando's portrayal of Stanley, along with the direction of Kazan and design of Mielziner enhanced the reputation of the Actor's Studio. Brando used the studio's version of Stanislavsky's system of psychological acting, known as "the Mehod."
  • The Actors Studio is Formed

    The Actors Studio is Formed
    Robert Lewis, Elia Kazan and Cheryl Crawford found the Actors Studio as a way for actors to develop their craft. Cheryl Crawford was previously casting director for a group called The Guild, who performed Red Rust, the first Soviet play to reach America, in 1929. Crawford is pictured on the left.
  • Miller and Williams - Major Dramatists of the Time

    Miller and Williams - Major Dramatists of the Time
    Arthur Miller's best-known plays are "All My Sons," "Death of a Salesman," and "The Crucible." Tennessee William's best-known are "The Glass Menagerie," "A Streetcar Named Desire," and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Their plays are in the dominant style of the time.
  • Kazan and Mielziner

    Kazan and Mielziner
    Elia Kazan and Jo Meilziner collaborated on many of Williams' and Miller's plays. Their production style of combined psychological realism and simplified, skeletal sets dominated the American theatre until the 1960s. The sketch is Mielziner's concept for Death of a Salesman.
  • Equity Union Makes a Statement Against the Blacklist

    In the 1950s, unions were potential targets for suspicion of being communist. Most unions in Hollywood had buckled under HUAC pressure. The Equity theatre union passed a resolution condemning the blacklist. In 1952, the language was added to all contracts and still exists today.
  • Blacklisted!

    Gale Sondergaard, who performed in Red Rust with the Theatre Guild in 1929 is blacklisted. Her husband, Herbert Biberman, who directed and starred in the play became one of the Hollywood Ten in 1947. The Hollywood Ten were banned from Hollywood due to alleged communist ties.
  • The Crucible

    The Crucible
    The Crucible explores the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials of the seventeenth-century. Parallels are drawn to McCarthy's communist witch hunts in the 1950s. Miller's plays focused on moral choices and conflicting values.
  • HUAC Comes to New York

    HUAC Comes to New York
    HUAC came to New York for the investigation of the theatre community, upset that so many people they had gotten rid of in Hollywood were working openly, using their own names, in the theatre. Despite all of their efforts, there was never a blacklist on Broadway.