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Palgrave Macmillan

Class Divisions on the Broadway Stage

The Staging and Taming of the I.W.W.

ISBN 9781137353047
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History

Examining twenty-five years of theatre history, this book covers the major plays that feature representations of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), or "Wobblies." American class movement and class divisions have long been reflected on the Broadway stage and, through the lens of the I.W.W., Michael Schwartz presents a fresh look at the conflict between labor and capital. From O'Neill's The Hairy Ape; Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted; John Howard Lawson's Processional; Harold Hickerson and Maxwell Anderson's Gods of the Lightning; and Upton Sinclair's Singing Jailbirds in the 1920s to O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh in 1946, Schwartz traces the plays' impact of I.W.W. as an actual agent for workers' rights and social change as well as the popular image of the Wobbly - how audiences "saw" Wobblies and what role they played in audience imagination.

Michael Schwartz is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA and the author of Broadway and Corporate Capitalism: The Rise of the Professional Managerial Class 1900-1920 (2009).

1. To Stop the World: The Most Stupendous Impossibles
2. Where Do I Get Off At? The Wobblies Spurns the Hairy Ape
3. No Kick Coming: The Romantic Wobbly of Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted
4. Jazzing the Wobblies: John Howard Lawson's Processionals
5. Dead Hand of the Dead: Anderson and Hickerson's Gods of the Lightning
6. We Even Sing 'em in Jap and Chink: Upton Sinclair's Workers' Theater Contribution
7. You I-Won't Work Harp: I.W.W. Elegy in The Iceman Cometh
8. Postscript: Not Time Yet


"In this illuminating study, Michael Schwartz provides vivid insights into the ways in which the Wobblies, a fabled crew of labor campaigners, were depicted on the Broadway stage. Schwartz colorfully demonstrates how Wobblies were evoked through individual characters, plot devices, and music. Through its fine storytelling and cogent analyses, Class Divisions on the Broadway Stage reveals a largely hidden part of American theatrical and labor history." - William A. Everett, University of Missouri, Kansas City, USA
"Schwartz has constructed an enticingly-written and enlightening history that expertly blends nuanced contextualization of the culture and politics of the 1920s with provocative readings of established and forgotten texts. For readers responsive to how theatre intersects with politics, unions, and economics, Class Divisions on the Broadway Stage offers a distinctive perspective on how commercial theatre audiences consume radicalism and the dynamics of labor history." - Theatre Journal
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