Federal Theatre Project -- Musicals


"Leaning on a shovel" skit from New York City production of Sing for Your Supper

New York City Federal Theatre Project, WPA, May 1939

By an unknown photographer National Archives, Records of the Work Projects Administration (69-TS-737-923-106)


A musical review, Sing for Your Supper, poked fun at the Federal Theatre and at politicians as well as satirized contemporary events. In the "leaning on a shovel" skit, WPA workers musically disputed charges that work relief promoted lazy workers who were paid for "shovel leaning." In one stanza they sang:


When you look at things today

Like Boulder Dam and TVA

And all those playgrounds where kids can play

We did it--by leaning on a shovel!


(this photo and text can be found at: http://www.nara.gov/exhall/newdeal/work1.html)



I discuss this musical in detail in my Master's Thesis, "Original Musicals of the Federal Theatre Project: Relief, Relevance, and Regionalism." [not yet available online]

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This page and all linked pages in this directory are copyrighted Eric W. Trumbull, 1998-2007.