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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MALS: Humanities

Directing Professor

Dr. Harry Stevens


In 1947 the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) convened to

root out communists and communist influence in the Hollywood film industry. This

phenomena of purging the film industry of anyone who had been a member of the

Communist Party was referred to as McCarthyism and led to the blacklisting of

hundreds of film writers, actors, and directors. Blacklisting meant that film producers

agreed not to hire these artists so they could not make a living in their chosen field of

work. The transcripts from these HUAC hearings are dramatized in Eric Bentley's

1975 play: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been: The Investigation of Show-Business

by the Un-American Activities Committee 1947-1958.

For this project I directed a staged reading of Bentley's play then sought to

answer two questions: what was it about communism that attracted these Hollywood

artists, and why did communism invoke such fear in America? I also delve into the

testimony of the witnesses Bentley chose to highlight in his play: the conservative

"friendlies" like Ronald Reagan, the liberal "unfriendlies" like Lillian Hellman, and the

equivocators like Abe Burrows.

In the conclusion I share the relevancy of these topics and my concern that the

authoritarian left that scared Americans in the mid-20th century is frighteningly similar

to the right-wing authoritarianism threatening America today.