Revolt of the Beavers

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal concerned itself, among other things, with the promotion of American children’s beaver-consciousness, via the activities of the WPA. Here’s a poster for “Revolt of the Beavers“:

The Federal Theatre Project produced a variety of children’s plays. The great majority were warmly received. The Revolt of the Beavers, however, stirred political passions from the moment it premiered. In the play, two small children are transported to “Beaverland,” where society is run by a cruel beaver chief. “The Chief” forces the other beavers to work endlessly on the “busy wheel,” turning bark into food and clothing, then hoards everything for himself and his friends. With the help of the children, a beaver named Oakleaf organizes his brethren, overthrows The Chief, and establishes a society where everything is shared. The show played to packed houses during its brief New York City run, but its message drew fire. Theater critic Brooks Atkinson labeled it “Marxism à la Mother Goose.”

See here for a stirring image from the play. And there’s more on Revolt of the Beavers, which was revived earlier this year by the Brooklyn Family Theater here. [Thanks!!, PM]

3 thoughts on “Revolt of the Beavers”

  1. ““Beaverland,” where society is run by a cruel beaver chief. “The Chief” forces the other beavers to work endlessly on the “busy wheel,” turning bark into food and clothing, then hoards everything for himself and his friends … Theater critic Brooks Atkinson labeled it “Marxism à la Mother Goose.”’
    I dunno, sounds like a brilliant satire of Stalinism to me. Though it does perhaps sit uneasily with the egalitarian socialist beavertopia suggested by Chris below (but I suppose that beavers would work better for the play’s purpose than bees or ants. Not cuddly. And damned difficult to lead in emancipatory revolt).

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