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The Free Southern Theater (FST) was a community theater group founded in 1963 at Tougaloo College in Madison County, Mississippi, by Gilbert Moses, Denise Nicholas, Doris Derby, and John O’Neal. The company manager was Mary Lovelace, later Chair of the Art Department at U.C. Berkeley. The company disbanded in 1980. The founders sought to introduce free theater to the South, both as a voice for social protest, and to emphasize positive aspects of African-American culture. O’Neal, Derby, and Moses outlined the philosophy of the troupe in a founding document:

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  • Das Free Southern Theater war ein Stadtteil- und Tourneetheater im Süden der USA. Es bestand von 1963 bis 1980. (de)
  • The Free Southern Theater (FST) was a community theater group founded in 1963 at Tougaloo College in Madison County, Mississippi, by Gilbert Moses, Denise Nicholas, Doris Derby, and John O’Neal. The company manager was Mary Lovelace, later Chair of the Art Department at U.C. Berkeley. The company disbanded in 1980. The Free Southern Theater was a part of the emerging Black Theatre Movement and also closely allied with the civil rights movement—O’Neal and Derby were also directors of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). They presented plays by Langston Hughes, John O. Killens, James Baldwin, and Ossie Davis as well as providing a space for their members to write their own plays. The founders sought to introduce free theater to the South, both as a voice for social protest, and to emphasize positive aspects of African-American culture. O’Neal, Derby, and Moses outlined the philosophy of the troupe in a founding document: Our fundamental objective is to stimulate creative and reflective thought among Negroes in Mississippi and other Southern states by the establishment of a legitimate theater, thereby providing the opportunity in the theater and the associated art forms. We theorize that within the Southern situation a theatrical form and style can be developed that is as unique to the Negro people as the origin of blues and jazz. A combination of art and social awareness can evolve into plays written for a Negro audience, which relate to the problems within the Negro himself, and within the Negro community. (en)
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  • Das Free Southern Theater war ein Stadtteil- und Tourneetheater im Süden der USA. Es bestand von 1963 bis 1980. (de)
  • The Free Southern Theater (FST) was a community theater group founded in 1963 at Tougaloo College in Madison County, Mississippi, by Gilbert Moses, Denise Nicholas, Doris Derby, and John O’Neal. The company manager was Mary Lovelace, later Chair of the Art Department at U.C. Berkeley. The company disbanded in 1980. The founders sought to introduce free theater to the South, both as a voice for social protest, and to emphasize positive aspects of African-American culture. O’Neal, Derby, and Moses outlined the philosophy of the troupe in a founding document: (en)
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  • Free Southern Theater (de)
  • Free Southern Theater (en)
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