From the moment Flanagan was selected to head the the Project in August of 1935, she must have been aware of the numerous obstacles that lay in her path, both in terms of logistics and public relations. She became national director of a virtual army of accountants and social workers to grapple with the details. As a single play could require coordinating up to twelve different unions, from the Actor's Guild to the Scenepainter's Syndicate, these were not inconsiderable. And with little support from the media or Capitol Hill, her task would have daunted many seemingly more qualified individuals. Amazingly, even more difficult to surmount or disregard were the inquiries of Martin Dies, Chairman of the Committee on Un-American Activities. One member of HUAC, J. Parnell Thomas announced on July 26, 1938, that the Federal Theatre Project not only is serving as a branch of the communistic organization but is also one more link in the vast an unparalleled New Deal propaganda machine.
Flanagan could not ignore Congress indefinitely. When she finally consented to appear before HUAC on December 7, 1938, she wryly commented that she had, since being made director of the Federal Theatre Project in August of 1935 been combating un-American inactivity. Her humor was lost on the Committee. Chairman Dies, battling for his concept of America in a troubled era, "...regarded any expression of discontent with the existing order on the part of labor, the Negro, the farmer, the intelligentsia, and indeed any segment of American society, as an expression of "class consciousness"- the fist step towards communism." (Matthews, 234) However sincere the congressman was in this at belief, the fact remains that Dies, by permitting, perhaps encouraging reckless charges that swirled around the Project for months on end, effectively wiped the Federal Theatre out of existence.
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