Lunchtime Follies: Food, Fun, and Propaganda in America's Wartime Workplace

TitleLunchtime Follies: Food, Fun, and Propaganda in America's Wartime Workplace
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsRoarty, Robert C.
JournalJournal of American Drama and Theatre
Date Published1999

The American Theatre Wing, Broadway's wartime service organization, played a key role in the professional theater's patriotic effort to assist the nation's mobilization campaign during the Second World War. One of the most interesting programs operating under the Wing's management was a series of brief, variety-show structured amusements presented in American factories and shipyards called the Lunchtime Follies. The Follies featured Broadway actors, singers, dancers, nightclub and vaudeville comedians, and musicians who performed for workers at defense-related industry plants during the workers' scheduled mealtime breaks. In its time, the Lunchtime Follies' were praised for their contributions to the home front and production effort. Unfortunately, the Follies are rarely mentioned in the cultural histories of the period and are inadequately researched even by theater historians. To rectify this oversight, this paper will trace the program's genesis, briefly outline its early production history, and examine some ways in which the material presented in the Follies operated as patriotic wartime propaganda.

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