‘The Uj Elore Hungarian Theatrical Shock Brigade’ by William Weinberg from New Masses. Vol. 7 No. 7. December, 1931.
The Hungarian Dramatic Club organized a Theatrical Shock Brigade of 10 members, 4 girls and 6 men, which has met with unusual success. Its purpose was to bring the idea of proletarian culture to out of town workers and by this means also to raise funds for our Hungarian Daily Uj Elore.
Securing the loan of two automobiles, on Saturdays and Sundays we visited the cities of New Brunswick, Trenton, Fairfield, Easton, Bethlehem, Passaic, Rahway, Perth Amboy and Baltimore — in the industrial section of five states. Our audience was always one of all workers, and we presented our plays without scenery, sometimes without a curtain or stage, without dressing rooms — dressing among the audience to whom we played. Everywhere we got the warmest comradely reception.
Our program consisted of recitations, chorus, a living newspaper about the elections and unemployment, a satire on prosperity, a one act play on the reactionary and the working class newspaper, and a part from a dramatized version of Jack Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World.
We had to contend with unusual difficulties on our trips. The drivers of the two machines were members of the Shock Brigade. One of the cars was an open one and we suffered from the wind and rain. We had engine trouble and blow-outs. The police searched our cars many times. But we arrived on time and gave a good account of ourselves at every place we were scheduled.
On one occasion playing in Passaic, N.J. we traveled 225 miles in the night following to arrive in Baltimore, Md. After the performance in that city, we again drove 225 miles in return to enable those of us who had jobs to be able to report in time for work on Monday morning.
It was a hard experience for our first Theatrical Shock Brigade. But the results were so gratifying, the reception given us everywhere so comradely, that we are now working out a new program to do it all over, and perhaps reach new groups in different cities.
WILLIAM WEINBERG, Secretary. New York.
The New Masses was the continuation of Workers Monthly which began publishing in 1924 as a merger of the ‘Liberator’, the Trade Union Educational League magazine ‘Labor Herald’, and Friends of Soviet Russia’s monthly ‘Soviet Russia Pictorial’ as an explicitly Communist Party publication, but drawing in a wide range of contributors and sympathizers. In 1927 Workers Monthly ceased and The New Masses began. A major left cultural magazine of the late 1920s and early 1940s, the early editors of The New Masses included Hugo Gellert, John F. Sloan, Max Eastman, Mike Gold, and Joseph Freeman. Writers included William Carlos Williams, Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Day, John Breecher, Langston Hughes, Eugene O’Neill, Rex Stout and Ernest Hemingway. Artists included Hugo Gellert, Stuart Davis, Boardman Robinson, Wanda Gag, William Gropper and Otto Soglow. Over time, the New Masses became narrower politically and the articles more commentary than comment. However, particularly in it first years, New Masses was the epitome of the era’s finest revolutionary cultural and artistic traditions.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/new-masses/1931/v07n07-dec-1931-New-Masses.pdf