TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER
Written by the editorial staff of the Living Newspaper under the supervision of Arthur Arent.
Triple-A Plowed Under was first produced by the Federal Theater Project at the Biltmore Theater on March 14, 1936
(War and Inflation)
(As overture ends, voice over the LOUDSPEAKER speaks.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Triple-A Plowed Under. (Curtain rises) 1917-Inflation.
(At rise red spotlight is on SOLDIERS marching in continuous columns up ramp placed upstage left. After a brief interval there is an increasing volume of marching feet. The entire scene is played behind scrim. Spotlight on three SPEAKERS and Crowd of FARMERS. SPEAKERS stand on highest level, right. Some of the FARMERS stand on lowest level, right, and some at stage level, right.)
SCENE TWO-A (Deflation)
(This scene is played in a series of three sub-scenes, on three levels. The highest level is stage right, the intermediate level, center, and the lowest level, left. First scene on highest level is lighted from directly overhead. Only the scene actually playing is lighted. Blackout at the end of each scene, as the spotlight comes up on the next scene. Chart indicating deflation is projected on scrim throughout this series.)
EXPORTER: Bad news, Frank. I can't ship any
more of your wheat.
(Spotlight comes up on middle level, CITY BANKER seated at desk, COUNTRY BANKER standing at his side, left.)
CITY BANKER (as if there had been a previous
conversation): It's just good banking, that's the only answer I can
(Spotlight comes up on lowest level, left,
COUNTRY BANKER seated at desk, and FARMER seated at his side,
(Farmer, Dealer, Manufacturer, Worker-Vicious
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): In the troubled fifteen years, 1920 to 1935, farm incomes fall five and one-half billion dollars; unemployment rises seven million, five hundred and seventy-eight thousand.
(Four spotlights come up on the four protagonists of this scene. FARMER, stage right, turns head sharply left, speaks to DEALER.)
FARMER (to DEALER): I can't buy that auto.
(Light goes out. DEALER turns head sharply left, speaks to MANUFACTURER.)
DEALER (to MANUFACTURER): I can't take that shipment.
(Count of one, light out. MANUFACTURER turns head sharply left, speaks to WORKER.)
MANUFACTURER (to WORKER): I can't use you any more.
(Light goes out. WORKER speaks directly front.)
WORKER: I can't eat. (Light goes out.)
SCENE FOUR (Farmers' Holiday)
(Lights on MILO RENO on proscenium on right.)
MILO RENO: As President of the Farmers' Holiday
Association, representing five thousand farmers, I wish to announce
the five points of our program during the coming
1. We will pay no taxes or interest until we have fully cared for our families.
2. We will pay no interest-bearing debts until we receive the cost of production.
3. We will buy only that which complete necessity demands.
4. We will stay in the homes we now occupy.
5. We will not sell our products until we receive the cost of production, but will exchange our products with labor and the unemployed for the things we need on the farm on the basis of cost of production for both parties.~
You can no more stop this movement than you could stop the Revolution of 1776. I couldn't stop it if I tried.
( stage voices shout, "Strike! Strike!" Follow RENO with spot to stage left, where light comes up on COMMISSION MERCHANTS behind desk. Lights shift to left.)
PRESIDENT OF COMMISSION MERCHANTS (holding out contract and pen to MILO RENO): Mr. Reno, I have here the terms drawn up by the committee of Commission Merchants. ... We want you to call off that strike. . . . Will you sign?
(Pause. MILO RENO turns to where off stage voices are still rumbling "Strike! Strike!" He turns back, and signs.)
SCENE FIVE (Milk Prices)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER):
Milk flows to market.
(Sioux City-Farmers Organize)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Sioux City-August 31, 1932-Farmers organize Relief Conference in theatre.
(The stage is a speaker's platform. DELEGATES are seated in various parts of the lower floor of the theatre. CHAIRMAN and FIRST SPEAKER are at table on stage.)
FIRST SPEAKER: We've been sold out! We've been
cheated and robbed. Milo Reno declared a holiday for Milo Reno-not
for us. Forget Reno. Forget his crazy schemes! For God's sake, think
for yourselves. I say, let's organize intelligently. We've got to
solve our problems clean and straight, or there will be those who
will solve them with bayonets.
(Cries of "Boo" from the audience.)
FOURTH SPEAKER: All right, "Boo" if you want to, but I say you're making a mistake.
(Cries of "Pipe down," "Get off" and "Boo.")
CHAIRMAN (holding up hand for silence): Friends, there's a great deal to be done. Yesterday fourteen of our men were shot down on the picket line in Cherokee County. ... We want our rights. . . . We want relief . . . and we will get it.
(Thunderous roar greets him. Cries of "Strike!" "Dump the milk!" and "Turn over the trucks!")
FIFTH SPEAKER (from audience): Menl We've got to save ourselves, with or without Milo Reno-and the only way to do that is to dump every truck and spill every can of milk we can lay our hands on. Let's stop talking and do something! (Tremendous roar.)
VOICES (off stage)
(During darkness following Scene Six, cries of "Strike" have given way to an ominous musical undercurrent. Throughout this scene, music continues, highlighting the climaxes, but at no time becoming more than a background.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): The challenge echoes through Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana. Over the Middle West embittered farmers act.
(The stage is completely dark save for a faint light which illuminates a crossroad signpost and part of an immense boulder. At rise there is no sound, but after a moment, the faint sound of an approaching truck is heard. This becomes louder and soon the twin lights of automobile headlights appear left. They grow stronger as the auto comes nearer, and sound increases. The lights have by this time reached the boulder, lighting up the heads of a DOZEN MEN grouped around and behind it, men who have been lying in wait to waylay the truck. As the lights hit them, one speaks:)
FIRST MAN: Here comes the truck, boys.
(The MEN leap out from behind the boulder and rush off left. A single voice is heard off stage-clearly-with great but quiet determination.)
VOICE OFF STAGE: Get down off that truck. . . .
(There is a split-second pause.)
(From off stage is heard the ripping and smashing of boxes being hurled from the truck. . . . A moment of this and then one voice, clear and loud.)
VOICE: Turn over the truck. Push! (A moment . . . then the final terrific crash as the truck is turned over.)
(NOTE: This effect is heightened by the following device: as the truck is being turned over, the lights on the boulder swing round dizzily until, instead of being one beside the other, they have become one over the other. . . . There is a full second's pause as they remain in that position, before the blackout.)
SCENE EIGHT (Farm Auction)
(The scene is a farmyard, but there is no attempt at realism; blue cyclorama, gray platform for auctioneer, barrel on platform. Gray ground row to mask lights on floor in front of eye. Otherwise no further properties in scene. FARMERS are in overalls, a few WOMEN in crowd. One MAN conspicuous in business clothes stands apart. All this is discovered at rise. The time is clearly afternoon, the day bright.)
FIRST NEIGHBOR (beckoning): Hey, Sam! Albert's
going to do the talkin'. John'll speak up first.
(WILSON nods his head backward toward a well-dressed man, who is walking about. The MAN finally stops in front of a group of farmers, and engages them in casual conversation.)
STRANGER: Nice day for an auction.
(The GROUP OF FARMERS look at him in disgust, turn away. STRANGER shrugs shoulder, and turns to FIRST and SECOND NEIGHBOR standing near.)
AUCTIONEER: We're all ready, folks, soon's the sheriff reads his notice.
(SHERIFF reads in an unintelligible fast monotone, "State of Wisconsin . . ." WILSON goes through GROUP OF FARMERS, from person to person, speaking so that the audience can hear.)
WILSON: Albert's going to do the rest of the talkin'. (Each FARMER nods in understanding manner. WILSON continues as he reaches JOHN) You speak up first. Albert'll do the talkin'.
(As SHERIFF completes his reading of the notice, the AUCTIONEER comes down with his hammer.)
AUCTIONEER: Folks, today you're going to be able to buy a lot of up-to-date modern machinery, and the best piece of farm land this side of the Mississippi River, and I want to see some spirited bidding. (FARMERS watch him grimly and silently) The valuation of the farm alone is twenty thousand dollars, three hundred acres under cultivation. Lock, stock and barrel, I should say it's worth, conservatively speakin', thirty thousand dollars. I leave it to you, gents, as to how we bid. All to oncet, or piece by piece? What'dya say we keep the pikers out... .
(Meaningly, to STRANGER) All to oncet.
(STRANGER nods slightly. FARMERS all turn their heads in unison toward STRANGER who is still occupied by two farmers talking to him)
AUCTIONEER: . . . Any objection? (There is no
answer) .. . All right, thirty thousand dollars on the block. What
am I bid? (Slight pause.)
(Pause. FARMERS remain grimly silent.)
AUCTIONEER (forcing a laugh): That's a good
one. Twelve cents. . . . Ha! Ha! Well, now, let's have a bid!
(AUCTIONEER looks around and is sobered by the dead earnestness of the FARMERS. His next speech, in dead earnestness likewise, is spoken meaningfully, directly to the stranger.)
AUCTIONEER: All right, I've got a bid. I'm bid twelve cents on thirty thousand dollars' worth of property, twelve cents. (Right at STRANGER) Who'll bid a thousand? Do I hear a thousand?
(STRANGER opens his mouth to speak. He starts to raise his arm. The FIRST NEIGHBOR grabs his hand. THIRD NEIGHBOR spins him around, tips his hat over his eyes and the two lead him off, THIRD NEIGHBOR speaking.)
THIRD NEIGHBOR:..: and when it rains around these parts, Mister, it pours. And you ought to see the pigs down to my place. It's the likeliest litter of little devils anybody ever seen.
(His voice trails off as they disappear off stage. The auctioneer's jaw sags. He looks at the SHERIFF and tries to catch his glance. SHERIFF deliberately turns his back and starts whittling.)
JOHN: Whattya waitin' for? You got a bid.
(Dead pause. The AUCTIONEER looks beaten, as if he hadn't heard the bid)
ALBERT: You got your bid.
(There is another, shorter pause, during which the AUCTIONEER looks more helpless than ever)
ALBERT: Well, whattaya waitin' for? Call it!
(Lem Harris, Secretary of the Farmers' National Relief Conference)
(Applause; spot up on LEM HARRIS down stage left, speaking over microphone.)
LEM HARRIS: The farmers themselves have come here to Washington to frame their own proposals for immediate relief from the burdens under which they are now being crushed. In their opinion a national emergency exists, and this is a time for emergency action. That means immediate relief, not some complicated scheme to "make the tariff effective" several years hence. (Pause) The three-quarters of the farmers, which economists consider as surplus, cannot really be considered as such. Neither can they consider their crops as surplus when they know that there are millions of unemployed who lack the very things which they produce and cannot sell. It was the recognition of this ironical situation which led the farmers of Iowa to give milk to the unemployed of Sioux City during the farm strike there. Remember, every farmer coming to this Conference has had personal experience with the farm problem; he is a real dirt farmer, elected by at least twenty-five farmers back home. His coming spells the distrust of the professional farm lobbies. He has taken matters into his own hands because he knows that no one else can do the job as well as he can.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): As our economic system now works, the greater the surplus of wheat on Nebraska farms, the larger are the breadlines in New York City.
(As curtains open on brilliant blue glass
curtain, against it are seen silhouetted a farm and city family, the
city family, center, and the farm family right, on ramp. The scene
grows angry as the two groups oppose each other.)
(Flame lights up, changing the sky from blue to
red. Against the flames is silhouetted the figure of a farmer in
shadow, holding a pitchfork. Farm and city families hold this
tableau, all through speech of GENERAL JOHNSON over the
(Both FAMILIES turn in protest toward the
SCENE ELEVEN (Triple-A Enacted)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Washington, May 12th, 1933-the AAA becomes the law of the land. It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress. . .
(Spotlight on SECRETARY WALLACE.)
SECRETARY WALLACE (picking up sentence): . . . to increase the purchasing power of farmers. It is, by that token, farm relief, but also, by the same token, National Relief, for it is a well-known fact that millions of urban unemployed will have a better chance of going to work when farm purchasing power rises enough to buy the products of city factories. Let's help the farmer. . . . It is trying to subdue the habitual anarchy of a major American industry, and to establish organized control in the interest of not only the farmer but everybody else. . . . The bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the power to…
(Lights fade on WALLACE. The projection of a map of the United States, showing acreage reduction, comes up on the scrim.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER (staccato): . Reduce acreage. The visible supply of wheat diminished from two hundred and twelve million bushels in 1932 to one hundred and twenty-four million bushels in 1934
(The projection changes to a number of little pigs in front of a number of large pigs, labeled "1933 production," the smaller pigs labeled "1934 production."
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER (continuing): To curtail production. Hog production was cut from sixty million in 1933 to thirty-seven million in 1935
(Projection changes to a slide depicting two loaves of bread. One is labeled "1933-100" the other "1934-110.")
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER (continuing): To levy a tax on processing of basic farm commodities. Wheat advanced in price from 32 cents a bushel in 1933 to 74 cents a bushel in 1934.
(Three spots directly overhead, stage right, center and stage left, light up as portals open. FARMER walks into spot right where he meets FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE.)
FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE : Check for reducing
(FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE exits right, FARMER turns front in area of center spot. SALESMAN enters left, and FARMER and SALESMAN meet in area spot left. As FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE and FARMER vacate spot right, that spot blacks; as FARMER vacates spot center, that spot blacks. The entire scene is played crisply, with no attempt at realism)
FARMER: Got a shirt?
(The scene is a stylized representation of the Chicago Wheat Pit. Two ramps, their large ends set upstage, are joined by two four-foot platforms. Behind the platforms, elevated, is a blackboard; so that they can be seen over the small ends of the ramps, are open telephone booths. A large clock is next to the blackboard, right. Instead of numerals it depicts the months of the year. It has only one hand. This hand revolves slowly through the playing of the scene. Left of the blackboard is a large thermometer-to indicate increasing heat. The thermometer does not move in this scene. There is a MAN at each of the four telephones, and several RUNNERS between them and the men in the Pit. The Wheat Pit is filled with 30 TRADERS. These TRADERS are divided into groups, left and right, one buying and one selling. At rise there is a din of voices. Immediately after rise a loud gong rings. The two GROUPS OF TRADERS speak in unison, those buying speak first, and those selling afterward. Their movements also are in unison-a movement which should be divided on a count of two beats to a measure or four beats to a measure, building tempo and volume of scene consistently until end. Right after gong is sounded, VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER speaks.)
VOICE: Triple-A enacted.
(This same VOICE speaks throughout the scene, with a slightly increasing tempo. One MAN at blackboard continues his motions of writing through the scene.)
TRADERS LEFT: Buying 500 May at 101.
(As portals close on Wheat Pit, trucks move in right with counter. COUNTERMAN stands right of counter, appropriately dressed, CUSTOMER left of counter. Light from overhead. Bowl and ladle on counter. CUSTOMER very shabbily dressed, with hat over his eyes.)
COUNTERMAN: Whadd'ya want?
(Front light on Restaurant. Background suggests
a modern room. A COUPLE in evening clothes are seated at table.
WAITER is taking the order. They are drinking cocktails.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Summer,1934: Drought Sears the Midwest, West, Southwest.
(Light up on tableau of a FARMER examining the
soil; a sun-baked plain, stretching away to a burning horizon. From
the LOUDSPEAKER two voices are heard, one crisp, sharp, staccato-the
other sinister and foreboding. The VOICES are accompanied by a
rhythmic musical procession that grows in intensity, and leaps to a
climax of shrill despair.)
(The FARMER who is examining the soil straightens up and slowly lets a handful of dry dust sift through his fingers.)
(Light on PASTOR standing at lectern, center and raised about eight feet. This is backed by Gothic church window. The scene is played through scrim. The PASTOR is praying as scene begins. Throughout this prayer, off stage voices are heard saying: "Fair and warmer, fair and warmer, fair and warmer.")
PASTOR: O God, heavenly Father, look down upon
thy people. See our plight today. There are those who claim to be
children of God, and yet manifest no real heart in the welfare of
others. Help us, Almighty Father, where these others fail.
(Projection of film of dying cattle is slowly dimmed in, and lights on PASTOR are slowly dimmed out)
PASTOR: ... and grant such seasonable weather
that we may yet be saved, that we may yet reap the fruits of our
labors in the fields, and rejoice in thy goodness.
(Picture projection is fully up, and light on PASTOR is completely out.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER):
The sun bakes the soil. Dust covers the land. All green things
wither. Cattle die for lack of food and water.
(At rise: TRADERS are discovered in new
formalized grouping, to indicate a different set-up from that of the
first Wheat Pit scene. Volume and tempo pick up at level and speed
at which first Wheat Pit scene blacked out. Gong rings, LOUDSPEAKER
announces: "Fair and warmer." This time quotations are read in
unison by everyone, and all their actions are in unison. The
thermometer rises to indicate increasing heat, the dial on the clock
moves over the specific areas indicating the hot summer months.)
(The scene is done with lights, the action
suggesting that the locale is a Negro's tiny patch of cotton in the
South. The action also indicates the presence of a mule. As the
lights come up SAM is trudging slowly towards left and singing.)
(He stops singing and begins to admire his mule)
SAM: Boy! Yo' sho' is a purty mule. Number 1 Guv'ment goin' to be mighty pleased with yo'! Yeah, man! Yo' sho' look like you goin' pull dis of patch back.
(The SHERIFF enters silently and stands behind SAM.)
SAM (continuing): Long time since I drive a
purty mule like yo'. I'se goin' call you Guv'ment. Yeah, man! Dey's
whe' yo' come from an' dat's what I call yo'. Number 1 Guv'ment
say, "Sam, yo' take dis money and buy yo'self a plah an' a mule an'
raise yo' a crop."
(It is possible that a scene column might be used to indicate the veranda of a Southern plantation. Five SHARECROPPERS enter, all very shabbily dressed.)
FARMER (drawling): I guess I can't use you
croppers no more. Ain't raisin' no more cotton.
(They follow him toward the FARMER as the scene blackens.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Detroit, July 27th, 1935. Housewives rebel against high meat prices.
(Butcher shop window and door. Meat prices
displayed in window as follows:
(They start walking to right. Suddenly a MAN comes through the door with a package. A number of WOMEN come on from left. They see the MAN, and start for him.)
GROUP OF WOMEN (ad lib.): Don't let him pass! Get him! Strikebreaker. The package! Get the package. Show him we mean business. Get him!
(As the MAN emerges from the mob, his package is seized by a woman who rips it apart and throws it off stage. He is then surrounded by a furious mob intent upon tearing him to pieces. The FEMALE LEADER of the strike mounts a box.)
LEADER: Wait! We've got a bigger fight than
this on our hands. We're not going to be satisfied with boycotting
only butcher shops. Once organized we'll look into milk prices, and
gas and electricity rates. In the present strike we don't want the
small butchers to suffer. We want to get results from the big
(MOB rushes off. They all exit down left.)
SCENE TWENTY-TWO (Mrs. Dorothy Sherwood)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Newburgh, New York: August l0th, 1935. Mrs. Dorothy Sherwood.
(Police desk on right. Light on desk, with
POLICE LIEUTENANT behind it. Enter MRS. SHERWOOD, left, with dead
infant in her arms. She walks toward desk.)
(Blackout on everything except MRS. SHERWOOD. She is picked out by the solitary overhead light. Off stage VOICE comes through the LOUDSPEAKER.)
VOICE: Why did you do it?
(As travelers open from rear, projection of
Constitution is thrown on glass curtain. Discovered in shadow
against projection are JUSTICE STONE, THREE OTHER JUSTICES, then
JUSTICE ROBERTS, and the FOUR REMAINING JUSTICES, right. ROBERTS
rises to one-foot platform directly in front of him. FIVE JUSTICES
who concurred in his opinion, turn in profile as he begins to
(He steps down; JUSTICE STONE Steps Up.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: The minority opinion-Justice Stone.
(The FIVE JUSTICES concurring with JUSTICE ROBERTS turn to full front. The TWO concurring with STONE, turn in silhouette.)
JUSTICE STONE: Courts are concerned with the power to enact statutes, not with their wisdom. The only check upon their own exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint. For the removal of unwise laws from the statute books, appeal lies not to the courts, but to the ballot, and to the processes of democratic government. So may the judicial power be abused. "The power to tax is the power to destroy," but we do not for that reason doubt its existence. Courts are not the only agents of government which must be assumed to have the capacity to govern.
(AS JUSTICE STONE steps down, SENATOR HASTINGS enters, right, steps on higher platform at back, throwing his shadow into a much larger projection than that of the JUSTICES.)
SENATOR HASTINGS: This re-establishes Constitutional government. It gives back to the States the power they intended to reserve when they adopted the Constitution. The chances are it will improve the condition of the country, as did the decision of the NRA.
(HASTINGS steps down and exits left. ALFRED E. SMITH enters right, steps on platform vacated by HASTINGS.)
ALFRED E. SMITH: We don't want the Congress of the United States singly or severally to tell the Supreme Court what to do. We don't want any administration that takes a shot at the Constitution in the dark, and tries to put something over in contradiction of it, upon any theory that there is going to be a great public power in favor of it, and it is possible that the United States Supreme Court may be intimidated into a friendly opinion with respect to it. But I found, all during my public life, that Almighty God built this country, and he did not give us that kind of a Supreme Court. (SMITH steps down, and exits left. BROWDER enters right; steps on platform vacated by SMITH.)
EARL BROWDER: The reactionaries seek to turn both "Americanism" and the Constitution into instruments of reaction, but neither of these things belongs to them. Nowhere does the Constitution grant the Supreme Court power over Congress, but it does make Congress the potential master of the Supreme Court.-' I repeat, the Constitution of the United States does not give the Supreme Court the right to declare laws passed by Congress unconstitutional.
(BROWDER steps down and exits left. THOMAS JEFFERSON enters right, steps on platform vacated by BROWDER.)
THOMAS JEFFERSON: There must be an arbiter somewhere. True, there must. But does that prove it is either the Congress or the Supreme Court? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention at the call of Congress or two-thirds of the States.
(Travelers slowly close, with JEFFERSON remaining standing on platform, center.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: Farmers voted, by more than 6 to 1, for continuance of Triple-A.
(MEN start crossing stage in front of travelers, from right to left.)
FIRST MAN: The AAA is dead.... (Exits left.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): January 21st, Buffalo, New York, Court refunds processing tax on order of Supreme tribunal.(Pause) Secretary Wallace.
(Lights on WALLACE speaking into microphone.)
(Light upon CHESTER A. DAVIS; this scene is played around his desk.)
CHESTER A. DAVIS: ... and we've got to find
something to take the place of AAA . . . something that is
constitutional, and that the various farm blocs will approve... .
(There is an expectant silence as they regard each other. The REPORTERS are excited, DAVIS smiles skeptically. A MESSENGER enters and deposits some sheaves of paper on his desk. DAVIS takes one, and the REPORTERS make a dash for the others. As DAVIS reads, the OTHERS read along with him. When they break into speech, it is in tones of intense excitement. CHESTER DAVIS speaks up, reading)
CHESTER A. DAVIS: The Soil Conservation Act
passed on mmm (mumbling)
(Tremendous excitement, elation, his fingers begin to punch the various buttons on his desk, sending out a general alarm. Simultaneously, SECRETARIES, ASSISTANTS, STENOGRAPHERS, CLERKS rush in. He continues, shouting):
CHESTER A. DAVIS: Get my Planning Board together. Get my assistant, get me Wallace. Get me Wilson, get me Stedman, get me . . .
(SECRETARIES, CLERKS, MESSENGERS cross and crisscross from right to left as DAVIS gives orders.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER: Huron, South Dakota, February l0th, 1936. . . . Farmers meet in Convention to draft program.
(Portals part just sufficiently to admit line of FARMERS carrying banners of the States-South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Idaho and Indiana. Half of the FARMERS enter from the left, and go right in front of portals, the other half enter from right and go left in front of portals. As last FARMER enters, portals close and straight line evenly spaced is formed in front of portals.)
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): Now, while the Soil
Conservation Act is being written, is the time to make Congress and
the Administration feel the pressure of the organized good sense of
the American farmers. We believe that the following main points
represent what the farmers must have in order to live decently, and
at the same time protect the interests of the other sections of the
(Curtains part revealing full stage set. MAN
and WOMAN in evening clothes are on highest level upstage left.
SECRETARY WALLACE is on intermediate level upstage, WOMEN from the
Meat Strike scene are left center in front of WALLACE, and MAN and
WOMAN in evening clothes and UNEMPLOYED are on ramp, right, while
FARMERS are on ramp, left. FARMERS previously in line across
footlights move toward ramp left, a few to proscenium, down right.
FARMER, UNEMPLOYED, etc., when speaking, step a little forward so
that they may be marked apart from crowd. All on stage turn heads
toward speaker to indicate source of voice. The reaction is
particularly marked in case of LOUDSPEAKER, with all heads turned
toward voice and holding that position until LOUDSPEAKER is
finished. Other definite and marked reactions in this scene are
gestures on the "up, up" of the FARMERS, and the "down, down" of the
WOMEN; the movement Of FARMERS and UNEMPLOYED as the FARMER steps
forward between the two groups, and the gestures drawing them
together on the line, "then our problem is the same," gestures
toward and against MAN and WOMAN in evening clothes and SECRETARY
WALLACE on lines such as "no charity," "lobs," "jobs." "We need
help, not words." There should be a balanced reaction away from
crowd in fear, disgust, etc., on the part of the MAN and WOMAN in
(All look toward LOUDSPEAKER.)
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES: Back to normalcy.
(FARMERS and UN EMPLOYED jump close together,
arms extended. Light on them is intensified. Lights on WALLACE and
WOMAN and MAN in evening clothes fade. Tableau of FARMERS, WOMEN
and UNEMPLOYED hold.)