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New York - Drama and Paper

This application card for the Workers Dramatic League in New York seems a small item, 6inches by 4, asking for details of name address, contact details and desired area of activity – Actor, Electrician, Stage manager etc. The League address was at 64 South Washington Square in New York City. However its size belies what it reveals about George's history and way of working.

The fact that George had one of these cards signals his desire to get involved in the radical theatre scene in New York, and his strong attachment to the city. The WDL itself reveals a history of the period and the ideas that were prevalent in that scene....and a puzzle!

 Research seems to indicate that the WDL in NYC was actually another organisation –The Workers Drama League , a small difference but one that opens up a fascinating history. This organisation was founded in New York in 1926 by John Lawson, John Dos Passos and Michael Gold, and lasted for just under two years, though staging a range of productions from dram to concerts, with the emphasis on socialist ideas and arts. It saw the forging of what was a strong friendship between the three including supporting the Proletarian Artist and Writer League with Soviet support in the 1930s. However that friendship ended in 1939 during a bitter dispute over Soviet actions during the Spanish Civil War.

Research also shows there was a worker drama league based in Chicago.

The card also highlights a perspective of the times George lived in and his constant need to write down thoughts, ideas, contacts and notes. George wrote wherever he could and with whatever was handy, and this card is no exception. There are notes and contact details and a quote on both sides of the card.

Items like this are truly fascinating in their origin and relevance. I have been in touch with two archives in the USA to try and track down details on the WDL, so watch this space...
Will Reid

Last modified onThursday, 19 March 2015 16:19
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