Nebraska Center for Writers

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Born in 1897 on a farm in Dixon County, Nebraska poet, playwright, and director VIRGIL GEDDES was considered one of the bright lights of the lost generation in Paris and a moving force behind the Federal Theater Project in the 1920s. Two volumes of his poetry were collected in 1926, including The Frog (Paris: Black Manikin Press) and Forty Poems (Paris: Editions des meilleurs livres). His Collected Poems was published in 1978 (National Poetry Foundation). A chapbook on the drama, Beyond Tragedy: Footnotes on the Drama was was published by Folcroft Library Editions. His plays include Native Ground (1937) and The Earth Between (1929), which was produced at the Provincetown Playhouse and was the stage debut of Bette Davis. He directed many Broadway plays as well, including Harold A Clarke and Maxwell Nurnberg's Chalk Dust (1936). His work was also regularly produced at the Experimental Theatre of the Federal Theater Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Geddes's genius was to play out ancient Greek themes in the context of contemporary midwestern farm families. Of The Earth Between and Native Ground, W David Sievers says, "Geddes ... attempted to capture the Greek feeling for the majesty of a struggle with the hereditary curse of evil within a family." Geddes is pictured at left with Hallie Flannigan, Director of the Federal Theater Project. Click on the picture to see an enlarged view that also shows WPA Administrator Harry Hopkins.

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Nebraska Center for Writers