The Show Must Go On.
Hallie (Ferguson) Flanagan ’11 was one of several Grinnellians to serve in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. She headed the Federal Theatre Project, which put theatre people back to work. The project lasted just four years and was criticized roundly by congressional conservatives, but it provided opportunities to artists such as Orson Welles and Arthur Miller, and broke new ground in experimental theatre.
Creativity in the face of opposition – that’s audacious.
Strong roots grow good projects
Hallie herself said the roots of her successes have strong roots in her being a student and then a faculty member at Grinnell College. At the end of 1924 she started the Grinnell Experimental Theatre, utilizing strong design principles to put on amazing productions. This experimentation was directly useful to the Federal Theater Project. Though a faculty member at Grinnell for just four years, her work had as profound an influence on Grinnell’s theater program as Grinnell had on her.
Hallie was the first woman to be chosen as a Guggenheim Fellow, became an alumna Phi Beta Kappa in 1942, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts in 1956, and in 1969 the Hallie Flanagan Arena Theatre was named in her honor.