Federal Theatre

In 1935, under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration, Harry Hopkins (assistant to President Roosevelt) asked Hallie Flanagan to head the Federal Theatre Project. The project was to set up theatre units all over the USA to give work to a limited number of the unemployed actors, directors, writers and technicians in theatre. After years of suffering through the Depression following the loss of his wealth, in January 1936 Gareth was employed as an actor with the Project at a salary of $94 a month. Before long he had become Director of Shakespearean and Religious Theatre for the Los Angeles office.

Gareth adapted early english Miracle plays and Shakespeare plays for performance at Los Angeles theatres and at churches and halls all over the city. Gareth immersed himself in the work with little regard for his health.

In 1937 he made his last, great stage appearance as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice – the part which he had played to such acclaim 27 years earlier at school. Gareth continued his work with the Project until it came to an end in 1939. Although he found himself unemployed once again, his work with religious drama and in churches had, clearly, had a not inconsiderable effect on him. He felt a calling to God and decided to act on it.
"Merchant of Venice 1937"
"Merchant of Venice 1937"

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