Macbeth. William Shakespeare.


New York: Federal Theatre Project, [1936]. Presumed First Edition. Rare program for the acclaimed all-black production of Macbeth, adapted and staged by Orson Welles [1915-1985] at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem in April 1936. Macbeth was performed by the so-called Negro Theatre unit of the Federal Theatre Project, part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration. John Houseman (1902-1988) was Managing Producer of the Negro Theatre in 1935-36 and did much to advance African-American theatre. Indeed, this Macbeth was one of the most acclaimed plays performed during the four years of the Federal Theatre Project. It became known as the "Voodoo Macbeth" because Welles set the play in a Caribbean island, complete with voodoo chants and dances. The play also helped bolster the career of the brilliant Welles, who was just 20 years old at the time. 8vo (9 inches / 23 cm). Single sheet folded to create 4 pages. Slight toning and edge wear. A Very Good copy. Copies of this theatre program are uncommon. None listed in OCLC WorldCat or in commerce as of February 9, 2017. RARE. Item #1233

Macbeth was both a critical and box-office success, running for 10 weeks at the Lafayette Theatre. In July 1936 it had a short run at the Adelphi Theatre and then went on tour around the country. Although the play was widely hailed, Brooks Atkinson, the influential theatre critic of The New York Times, was less than reverential. Writing in the Times on April 15, 1936, Atkinson concluded his review by saying: "Although the staging by Orson Welles and John Houseman is uncommonly resourceful in individual scenes, it has missed the sweep and scope of a poetic tragedy. This reporter is inclined to think that in their rearrangement of the play they have been more considerate of the text than such a free-hand occasion warrants. The opening was an exciting event in Harlem last evening with an Elks band serenade and a denser mob than the Ethiopian mass-meeting drew on Lenox Avenue. As an experiment in Afro-American showmanship, Macbeth merited the excitement that fairly rocked the Lafayette Theatre. If it is witches you want, Harlem knows how to overwhelm you with their fury and phantom splendor."

Price: $300.00

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