News & Politics

Joe Papp Stands Up to HUAC


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

June 25, 1958, Vol. III, No. 35

Creation or Destruction?

On Thursday of last week Joseph Papp, producer and creator of the New York Shakespeare Festival, refused to answer questions about his political beliefs before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He was immediately fired from his job at CBS—unit manager of the TV show “I’ve Got a Secret”—on which he had sustained himself while bringing into existence the Shakespeare productions which some 100,000 New Yorkers have seen, for free, in Central Park and the East River Amphitheatre. The Village Voice invited Mr. Papp to comment on the issue. Here are his remarks:

For myself, I am more than ever determined to devote my energies in bringing the classical theatre to all people regardless of their ability to pay. I will not be diverted from considering my work in the theatre a social as well as an artistic responsibility.

My philosophy is no secret. It is most clearly expressed in the founding and development of the New York Shakespeare Festival. And although I have no reluctance to discuss my opinions and beliefs with anybody, I will not be coerced into revealing names of innocent people. I will not be intimidated into repudiating the meaning of my life. I will not cooperate with an irresponsible, publicity-seeking committee bent on destroying reputations and spreading the insidious blacklist.

There are many problems in the theatre: unemployment, the lack of permanent theatres where performers and technicians can learn their crafts, just to name two. It would be well for officials to concern themselves with this real problem and help to contribute to the cultural well-being of our people, rather than to destroy what little exists. — Joseph Papp

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2008


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