Pope Francis Set to Release a Rock/Pop Album: Listen to the First Single

pope francis album

That’s right, I said it. In Novem­ber, the Pope will offi­cial­ly release a rock/pop album called Pope Fran­cis: Wake Up! (which you can already pre-order on iTunes). And below, you can hear the first sin­gle, “Wake Up! Go! Go! For­ward!” It’s one of 11 tracks.

Accord­ing to Rolling Stone, “The Vat­i­can-approved LP … fea­tures the Pon­tiff deliv­er­ing sacred hymns and excerpts of his most mov­ing speech­es in mul­ti­ple lan­guages paired with uplift­ing musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment rang­ing from pop-rock to Gre­go­ri­an chant.” The Pope’s songs will focus on themes that Amer­i­cans are get­ting famil­iar with this week: “peace, dig­ni­ty, envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and help­ing those most in need.“Pope Fran­cis: Wake Up! will offi­cial­ly go on sale on Novem­ber 27th. Yup, Black Fri­day.

via Rolling Stone

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Revel in The William Faulkner Audio Archive on the Author’s 118th Birthday


There was once a time that I intend­ed to make a career out of writ­ing about and teach­ing the work of William Faulkn­er. Plans—and economies—change, but my admi­ra­tion and enthu­si­asm for the U.S.‘s fore­most mod­ernist nov­el­ist has not dimmed one bit as time goes on. There’s some­thing about the breath­less urgency of Faulkn­er’s prose—combined with its thick haze of obscu­ri­ty, seem­ing to rep­re­sent the mists of time, and time­less­ness, itself—that nev­er fails to entrance me. Despite his com­mit­ted region­al­ism, Faulkn­er’s themes nev­er slip from rel­e­vance, his arche­typ­al char­ac­ters rarely seem dat­ed, and even his less­er works, like Sanc­tu­ary, reach sub­lime heights of tragi­com­e­dy few con­tem­po­rary writ­ers can scale.

Like all great writ­ers, Faulkn­er had his flaws and blind spots. Many of his per­son­al atti­tudes and writer­ly quirks might be called quaint or provin­cial. And yet, as Toni Mor­ri­son once told The Paris Review, incred­i­bly dizzy­ing nov­els like Absa­lom, Absa­lom! also reveal “the insan­i­ty of racism…. No one has done any­thing quite like that ever.” What­ev­er atti­tudes Faulkn­er inher­it­ed from his fam­i­ly and cul­ture, he nev­er sat com­fort­ably with them as a writer, nor shrunk from inter­ro­gat­ing the per­verse con­tra­dic­tions of white suprema­cy and the pseu­do-his­tor­i­cal, fever-dream fan­tasies of the “The Lost Cause.” These themes have found res­o­nance in near­ly every cul­tur­al milieu. Faulkn­er’s “meta­physics” pro­voked Jean-Paul Sartre, and his very pres­ence gave rise to an Oedi­pal strug­gle in writ­ers like Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez; he is read in Japan, Mar­tinique, the Ivory Coast…. This is but a tiny sam­pling of the Mis­sis­sip­pi nov­el­ist’s glob­al reach.

Even before Faulkn­er was an aca­d­e­m­ic indus­try or an Ever­est so many ambi­tious writ­ers feel the need to con­quer, he became a nation­al trea­sure in his life­time, win­ning the Nobel Prize for lit­er­a­ture in 1954 and serv­ing as an (often drunk) cul­tur­al ambas­sador for his coun­try. In 1957, Faulkn­er began his year as writer-in-res­i­dence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia. Though he joked at the time that he was “just the writer-in-res­i­dence, not the speak­er-in-res­i­dence,” he nonethe­less “gave two address­es, read a dozen times from eight of his works, and answered over 1400 ques­tions from audi­ences made up of var­i­ous groups, rang­ing from UVA stu­dents and fac­ul­ty to inter­est­ed local cit­i­zens.” A major­i­ty of these moments were cap­tured on tape, and the UVA Library’s “Faulkn­er at Vir­ginia” project has them all avail­able online. You can search for spe­cif­ic ref­er­ences or browse the entire archive, and each page has a full tran­script of the audio.

You can hear, for exam­ple, Faulkn­er instruct his audi­ence on the cor­rect pro­nun­ci­a­tion of “Yok­na­p­ataw­pha,” the fic­tion­al coun­ty set­ting of his Mis­sis­sip­pi fic­tion (top). You can hear him read his sto­ry “Shin­gles for the Lord” (mid­dle), and hear (above) his humor­ous answer to a ques­tion about Jack Ker­ouac’s On the Road. (He con­fess­es he has­n’t read it yet, then con­cludes, “I con­sid­er writ­ing my hob­by, not my trade. I’m a farmer, actu­al­ly, and the peo­ple I know are not lit­er­ary peo­ple, and I don’t keep up with [these] books.”) He gives many more live­ly answers about fel­low writ­ers and talks about his time in Hol­ly­wood (“It was a—a pleas­ant way to make some mon­ey.”)

Faulkn­er also touch­es on social issues, albeit reluc­tant­ly. In a tense moment dur­ing a ses­sion at Vir­gini­a’s Wash­ing­ton and Lee Uni­ver­si­ty (above), he gives an ambiva­lent response to a ques­tion about Brown vs. Board of Ed:

That’s sort of got out of fic­tion, has­n’t it? [audi­ence laugh­ter] I would say it was some­thing that—that had to—to come. There was a—the dean of the law school at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­sis­sip­pi said ten, twelve years ago that in time the Supreme Court would—would hand down that opin­ion. Nobody believed him. It’s—it’s our fault. If we had—had giv­en the Negro a chance to find whether or not he can be equal, there would­n’t have been any need for it. It has set rela­tions between the races back for some time, but it had to come. It’s our fault. [We could have pre­vent­ed it.]

Like most of Faulkn­er’s respons­es to the bur­geon­ing Civ­il Rights move­ment, this answer is halt­ing and non­com­mit­tal, offer­ing both sup­port for “the Negro” and an oblique endorse­ment of seg­re­ga­tion. It’s a moment that well rep­re­sents Faulkn­er’s con­tra­dic­tions; he was a writer who posed for­mi­da­ble chal­lenges to the South’s ethos, and yet he was also—in his pose a gen­tle­man farmer and his devo­tion to tradition—a self-con­scious rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the region in all its stub­born­ness and fear of change. “We are liv­ing in a time of impos­si­ble rev­o­lu­tions,” wrote Sartre in 1939, “and Faulkn­er uses his extra­or­di­nary art to describe our suf­fo­ca­tion and a world dying of old age.”

Whether you agree with this crit­i­cal assess­ment or not, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any­one who dis­agrees that Faulkn­er’s was an “extra­or­di­nary art.” The “Faulkn­er at Vir­ginia” audio archive gives us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to get to know the man behind it, with all his self-effac­ing good humor, plain­spo­ken wis­dom, and, yes, South­ern charm.

If you’re new to Faulkn­er and won­der­ing which nov­el to start with, take Faulkn­er’s advice below. (The answer, in short, is Sar­toris.) And if you want to know what book Faulkn­er con­sid­ered his best, click here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vin­tage Audio: William Faulkn­er Reads From As I Lay Dying

William Faulkn­er Reads His Nobel Prize Speech

Guide­lines for Han­dling William Faulkner’s Drink­ing Dur­ing For­eign Trips From the US State Depart­ment (1955)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

How French Artists in 1899 Envisioned Life in the Year 2000: Drawing the Future


Atom­ic physi­cist Niels Bohr is famous­ly quot­ed as say­ing, “Pre­dic­tion is very dif­fi­cult, espe­cial­ly if it’s about the future.” Yet despite years of get­ting things wrong, mag­a­zines love think pieces on where we’ll be in sev­er­al decades, even cen­turies in time. It gives us com­fort to think great things await us, even though we’re long over­due for the per­son­al jet­pack and, based on an Isaac Asi­mov inter­view in Omni Mag­a­zine that blew my teenage mind, inter­change­able gen­i­tals.


And yet it’s Asi­mov who appar­ent­ly owned the only set of post­cards of En L’An 2000, a set of 87 (or so) col­lectible artist cards that first appeared as inserts in cig­ar box­es in 1899, right in time for the 1900 World Exhi­bi­tion in Paris. Trans­lat­ed as “France in the 21st Cen­tu­ry,” the cards fea­ture Jean-Marc Côté and oth­er illus­tra­tors’ inter­pre­ta­tions of the way we’d be living…well, 15 years ago.

The his­to­ry of the card’s pro­duc­tion is very con­vo­lut­ed, with the orig­i­nal com­mis­sion­ing com­pa­ny going out of busi­ness before they could be dis­trib­uted, and whether that com­pa­ny was a toy man­u­fac­tur­er or a cig­a­rette com­pa­ny, nobody seems to know. And were the ideas giv­en to the artists, or did they come up with them on their own? We don’t know.



One of the first things that stands out scan­ning through these prints, now host­ed at The Pub­lic Domain Review, is a com­plete absence of space trav­el, despite Jules Verne hav­ing writ­ten From the Earth to the Moon in 1865 (which would influ­ence Georges Méliès’ A Voy­age to the Moon in 1902). How­ev­er, the under­wa­ter world spawned many a flight of fan­cy, includ­ing a whale-drawn bus, a cro­quet par­ty at the bot­tom of the ocean, and large fish being raced like thor­ough­bred hors­es.


There’s a few inven­tions we can say came true. The “Advance Sen­tinel in a Heli­copter” has been doc­u­ment­ing traf­fic and car chas­es for decades now, fed right into our tele­vi­sions. A lot of farm work is now auto­mat­ed. And “Elec­tric Scrub­bing” is now called a Room­ba.


For a card-by-card exam­i­na­tion of these future visions, one should hunt out Isaac Asimov’s 1986 Future­days: A Nine­teenth Cen­tu­ry Vision of the Year 2000, which can be found for very cheap on Ama­zon right now. (Or see the nice gallery of images at The Pub­lic Domain Review.) And who knows? Maybe next year, your order will come to your door by drone. Just a pre­dic­tion.

via Pale­o­fu­ture

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Isaac Asimov’s 1964 Pre­dic­tions About What the World Will Look 50 Years Lat­er — in 2014

Arthur C. Clarke Pre­dicts the Future in 1964 … And Kind of Nails It

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Queenie: A Handmade Paper Animation About a Lovesick Professor and His Strange Academic Project

From direc­tor Paul Nea­son comes Quee­nie, an ani­mat­ed short film hand­made with paper and card­board. This tragi­com­ic short fol­lows Dan­ny, a uni­ver­si­ty Geog­ra­phy tutor/professor, as he and his stu­dents embark on a cut­ting-edge aca­d­e­m­ic project, which has noth­ing to do with his recent divorce from his wife.

Cre­at­ed by Nation­al Park Stu­dios in New Zealand, Quee­nie pre­miered at SXSW 2014, and, after gath­er­ing a few awards, it’s now mak­ing its debut online. It will be housed in the Ani­ma­tion sec­tion of our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Stream 82 Hours of Frank Zappa Music: Free Playlists of Songs He Composed & Performed


Cre­ative Com­mons image by Jean-Luc Ourlin

When we think of 60s avant-gardism, we like­ly think of lit­er­ary fig­ures like William S. Bur­roughs or John Barth, film­mak­ers like Stan Brakhage or Ken­neth Anger, and art stars (and per­haps inven­tor of the “art star”) like Andy Warhol. In music, we may drop names like La Monte Young, Ter­ry Riley, Philip Glass, Sun Ra, or even Ornette Cole­man, who began devel­op­ing his impro­visato­ry the­o­ry of “har­molod­ics” in the late six­ties, chang­ing the way many musicians—in every pos­si­ble style—approached their own exper­i­men­tal­ism.

We may not often be inclined, however—as stu­dents of the avant-garde—to include the name Frank Zap­pa in the com­pa­ny of such “seri­ous” artists. There are many rea­sons for this, many of them attrib­ut­able to delib­er­ate choic­es Zap­pa him­self made to occu­py a space in-between that of a seri­ous exper­i­men­tal com­pos­er and a pop­u­lar rock and roll provo­ca­teur whose music and lyrics par­o­died the coun­ter­cul­ture and whose impos­si­ble-to-clas­si­fy albums skirt­ed nov­el­ty sta­tus.

And yet, writes All­mu­sic, Zap­pa’s “com­ic and seri­ous sides were com­ple­men­tary, not con­tra­dic­to­ry… most of all, he was a com­pos­er far more ambi­tious than any oth­er rock musi­cian of his time and most clas­si­cal musi­cians, as well.” You don’t have to take my word for it—or the word of such a stan­dard­ized ref­er­ence guide as All­mu­sic. You can hear for your­self, for free, a playlist of Zap­pa-as-com­pos­er, thanks to Spo­ti­fy Clas­si­cal Playlists.

Yes, you do have to down­load, if you don’t already have, the free Spo­ti­fy soft­ware. But the rewards are great. You’ll hear inter­pre­ta­tions of Zap­pa in New Orleans-style jazz and funk in tracks like “Zom­by Wolf,” per­formed by Asphalt Orches­tra; musi­cal man­i­festos against con­formism in “Hun­gry Freaks Dad­dy,” per­formed by the Frank Zap­pa Merid­i­an Arts Ensem­ble; satir­i­cal, dystopi­an col­lages like “Food Gath­er­ing in Post-Indus­tri­al Amer­i­ca, 1992,” per­formed by The Yel­low Shark.

The cat­a­log is vast and impos­si­ble to sum­ma­rize, the music per­formed by jazz and clas­si­cal ensem­bles of all kinds. Fans of canon­i­cal Zap­pa will be equal­ly well-served by anoth­er Spo­ti­fy Clas­si­cal Playlist which aims to make all of the eccen­tric guitarist/composer/bandleader/shameless self-pro­moter’s record­ed out­put with his band The Moth­ers of Inven­tion (or just The Moth­ers) avail­able to stream in a chrono­log­i­cal discog­ra­phy.

Depend­ing on your location—and the date you’re read­ing this post—you will be able to hear most or all of 917 tracks over 56 albums, from the debut 1966 album Freak Out! to the posthu­mous 1998 com­pi­la­tion Mys­tery Disc. Read more about Zap­pa-as-com­pos­er and the com­plete Zap­pa discog­ra­phy project at Spo­ti­fy Clas­si­cal. For those with objec­tions to stream­ing music ser­vices, Ulysses—compiler of the Spo­ti­fy Clas­si­cal Playlists—observes that “the man him­self came up with an idea for music sub­scrip­tion in 1983.” Like Zap­pa’s music, and like the man him­self, his pro­pos­al was com­plete­ly ahead of its time—and per­haps ahead of ours as well.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Young Frank Zap­pa Turns the Bicy­cle into a Musi­cal Instru­ment on The Steve Allen Show (1963)

The Night Frank Zap­pa Jammed With Pink Floyd … and Cap­tain Beef­heart Too (Bel­gium, 1969)

Frank Zap­pa Debates Cen­sor­ship on CNN’s Cross­fire (1986)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

When Brian Eno & Other Artists Peed in Marcel Duchamp’s Famous Urinal

Ask the man on the street what he knows about the work of Mar­cel Duchamp, and he’ll almost cer­tain­ly respond with some descrip­tion of a uri­nal. He would be refer­ring to 1917’s Foun­tain, a piece whose unusu­al con­tent and con­text you can get a sol­id intro­duc­tion to in the three-minute Smarthis­to­ry video above. In it, Dr. Beth Har­ris and Dr. Steven Zuck­er dis­cuss how and why Duchamp went down to the plumb­ing store, pur­chased a plain, sim­ple uri­nal, turned it on its side, signed it, titled it, and sub­mit­ted it to a gallery show.

“He made it as a work of art, through the alche­my of the artist trans­formed it,” says Zuck­er on this piece of what Duchamp described as “ready­made” art. “One of the ways we can think about what art is,” says Har­ris, “is as a kind of trans­for­ma­tion of ordi­nary mate­ri­als into some­thing won­der­ful. It trans­ports us, and that makes us see things in a new way. Even though he did­n’t make any­thing, he is ask­ing us to see the uri­nal in a new way: not, nec­es­sar­i­ly, as an aes­thet­ic object, but to make us ask these philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions about what art is and what the artist does.”

And what does anoth­er artist do when con­front­ed with all this? Bri­an Eno, musi­cian, pro­duc­er, and visu­al artist in his own right, decid­ed to treat Foun­tain not philo­soph­i­cal­ly, but rather lit­er­al­ly. At Dan­ger­ous Minds, Mar­tin Schnei­der writes up the sto­ry as heard from a 1993 inter­view on Euro­pean tele­vi­sion. See­ing Ducham­p’s by-then-sacred uri­nal on dis­play at the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art in New York,

I thought, how ridicu­lous that this par­tic­u­lar … pisspot gets car­ried around the world at—it costs about thir­ty or forty thou­sand dol­lars to insure it every time it trav­els. I thought, How absolute­ly stu­pid, the whole mes­sage of this work is, “You can take any object and put it in a gallery.” It doesn’t have to be that one, that’s los­ing the point com­plete­ly. And this seemed to me an exam­ple of the art world once again cov­er­ing itself by draw­ing a fence around that thing, say­ing, “This isn’t just any ordi­nary piss pot, this is THE one, the spe­cial one, the one that is worth all this mon­ey.”

So I thought, some­body should piss in that thing, to sort of bring it back to where it belonged. So I decid­ed it had to be me.

Schnei­der also quotes from Eno’s descrip­tion of the inci­dent in his diary, A Year with Swollen Appen­dices, in which he describes exact­ly how he pulled this oper­a­tion off. It involved obtain­ing “a cou­ple of feet of clear plas­tic tub­ing, along with a sim­i­lar length of gal­va­nized wire,” fill­ing the wired tube with urine, then insert­ing “the whole appa­ra­tus down my trouser-leg,” return­ing to the muse­um, and — with a guard stand­ing right there — stick­ing the tube through a slot in the dis­play case, “pee­ing” into “the famous john,” and using the expe­ri­ence of Foun­tain’s “re-com­mode-ifi­ca­tion” as the basis of a talk he gave that very night.

But Eno isn’t the only one to have used Ducham­p’s uri­nal for its orig­i­nal pur­pose. Accord­ing to Art Dam­aged, “French artist Pierre Pinon­cel­li uri­nat­ed into the piece while it was on dis­play in Nimes, France in 1993,” and at a 2006 exhi­bi­tion in Paris “attacked the work with a ham­mer” (lat­er, and under arrest, describ­ing the attack as “a work of per­for­mance art that Duchamp him­self would have appre­ci­at­ed”). In 2000, “Chi­nese per­for­mance art duo Yuan Chai and Jian Jun Xi uri­nat­ed on the work while it was on dis­play in Lon­don,” though they could make a direct hit only on its Per­spex case. “The uri­nal is there – it’s an invi­ta­tion,” Chai explained. “As Duchamp said him­self, it’s the artist’s choice. He choos­es what is art. We just added to it.”

The list goes on: in 1993, South African artist and ready­made enthu­si­ast Kendell Geers peed on anoth­er one of the Foun­tain repli­cas in cir­cu­la­tion, then on dis­play in Venice; in 1999, Swedish stu­dent Björn Kjelltoft sim­i­lar­ly befouled anoth­er in Stock­holm. “I want­ed to have a dia­logue with Duchamp,” said Kjelltoft. “He raised an every­day object to a work of art and I’m turn­ing it back again into an every­day object.” That quote appears in “Piss­ing in Ducham­p’s Foun­tain” by 3:AM Mag­a­zine’s Paul Ingram, a piece offer­ing details on all these inci­dents, and even pho­tos of two of them. “These acts of van­dal­ism, almost con­sti­tut­ing a tra­di­tion, might be imag­ined as an accom­pa­ni­ment to the unend­ing stream of crit­i­cal com­men­tary on this work of art, to which [this] case study makes its own con­tri­bu­tion.” The pee-ers, per­haps, have by now made their point — but the phi­los­o­phy con­tin­ues.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds/Art Dam­aged

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­cel Duchamp, Chess Enthu­si­ast, Cre­at­ed an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Avail­able via 3D Print­er

Anémic Ciné­ma: Mar­cel Duchamp’s Whirling Avant-Garde Film (1926)

Jump Start Your Cre­ative Process with Bri­an Eno’s “Oblique Strate­gies”

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Young Orson Welles Directs “Voodoo Macbeth,” the First Shakespeare Production With An All-Black Cast: Footage from 1936

In 1935, a 19-year-old Orson Welles—just becom­ing well-known as a radio actor—found him­self part of the Fed­er­al The­atre Project, a New Deal pro­gram start­ed to help strug­gling writ­ers, actors, direc­tors, and the­ater work­ers. Hired by John House­man, then direc­tor of New York’s Negro The­atre Unit, Welles threw him­self into the project, even invest­ing his own earn­ings from his radio work to speed pro­duc­tions along and make them more pro­fes­sion­al. He would lat­er tell Peter Bog­danovich, “Roo­sevelt once said that I was the only oper­a­tor in his­to­ry who ever ille­gal­ly siphoned mon­ey into a Wash­ing­ton project.”

For his first play, Welles adapt­ed Shake­speare’s Mac­beth, set­ting it on the island of Haiti under post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary ruler King Hen­ri Christophe. Instead of the Scot­tish witch­craft of the orig­i­nal, Welles’ pro­duc­tion fea­tured Hait­ian vodou rit­u­als, and it thus acquired the name “Voodoo Mac­beth.”

You can see four min­utes of the pro­duc­tion in the film above. Despite the change of set­ting, a voiceover announc­er tells us, “the spir­it of Mac­beth and every line of the play has remained intact.”

Voodoo Macbeth Playbill

The play debuted in 1936 at Harlem’s Lafayette The­ater and was per­formed for seg­re­gat­ed audi­ences. It was so pop­u­lar that it exceed­ed its ini­tial run, then toured the coun­try, spend­ing two weeks in Dal­las at the Texas Cen­ten­ni­al Expo­si­tion (see a play­bill above). Welles, at 20 years of age, was hailed as a prodi­gy. The adap­ta­tion, writes the Dig­i­tal Pub­lic Library of Amer­i­ca, “brought mag­i­cal real­ism and aspects of Hait­ian cul­ture to the pro­duc­tion.”

The play includ­ed drum­mers who played and sang chants from voodoo cer­e­monies. Welles reimag­ined the witch­es from the orig­i­nal Mac­beth as voodoo priest­esses. Cos­tumes reflect­ed fash­ion from Haiti’s nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry colo­nial peri­od.

As with so many of Welles’ the­ater exper­i­ments, crit­i­cal opin­ion divid­ed sharply. Some, includ­ing the Harlem Com­mu­nists, saw the play as racist com­e­dy. Many oth­ers “felt that Welles’ cast­ing of an entire com­pa­ny of African-Amer­i­can actors allowed these actors to show their tal­ent and tenac­i­ty dur­ing per­for­mances in front of seg­re­gat­ed audi­ences.”


The play employed 150 actors, includ­ing box­er and suc­cess­ful film actor Cana­da Lee as Ban­quo (above), and “raised con­tem­po­rary social issues that for some drew uncom­fort­able atten­tion to nation­al prob­lems.” (Wikipedia has a full cast list and sev­er­al pro­duc­tion stills.)

All footage of the pro­duc­tion was thought lost for sev­er­al years, until the four min­utes at the top were dis­cov­ered in the short film above, “We Work Again.” Pro­duced by Alfred Edgar Smith—a civ­il rights activist and one­time mem­ber of F.D.R.‘s so-called “Black Cabinet”—this film details in opti­mistic tones the WPA’s suc­cess in cre­at­ing jobs for unem­ployed African-Amer­i­cans. Smith worked, writes The New York Times, “to ban dif­fer­en­tial pay rates and to hire black case work­ers in the South,” and he made “We Work Again” as one of many “stud­ies on how blacks fared under relief pro­grams.” His efforts, of course, have their own his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, but we can also thank Smith for pre­serv­ing the only sur­viv­ing sound and mov­ing image of Welles’ first major the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion. “The ‘Voodoo’ Mac­beth,” writes Shake­speare schol­ar Susan McCloskey, is notable as “the first black pro­fes­sion­al pro­duc­tion of Shake­speare, an impor­tant crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess for the Fed­er­al The­atre, and an appro­pri­ate­ly daz­zling debut for its twen­ty-year-old direc­tor.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Orson Welles’ Radio Per­for­mances of 10 Shake­speare Plays

Orson Welles Turns Heart of Dark­ness Into a Radio Dra­ma, and Almost His First Great Film

The Hearts of Age: Orson Welles’ Sur­re­al­ist First Film (1934)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The New Yorker’s “Comma Queen” Mercifully Explains the Difference Between Who/Whom, Lay/Lie, Less/Fewer & Beyond

From The New York­er comes “The Com­ma Queen” video series, which fea­tures Mary Nor­ris talk­ing about the fin­er points of lan­guage that come up again and again in our every­day writ­ing. Some of it, no doubt, will come in handy.

Nor­ris began work­ing at The New York­er in 1978, and has served as a copy editor/proofreader for much of that time. Suf­fice it to say, she can tell you some instruc­tive things about lan­guage.

Above, we start you off with Nor­ris explain­ing the dif­fer­ence “who” and “whom,” and then “lay” and “lie.” (Bob Dylan take note.) This oth­er clip — focus­ing on “less” v. “few­er” — gets into a pet peeve of mine. By the way, did I use those dash­es cor­rect­ly in the pre­vi­ous sen­tence? Well, there’s a video about that too.

You can watch all of the Com­ma Queen videos over at The New York­er, or via this YouTube playlist.

And it’s worth not­ing that Nor­ris has a new book out called Between You and Me: Con­fes­sions of a Com­ma Queen.

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