Fists Upon a Star: A Memoir of Love, Theatre, and Escape from McCarthyism

Florence Bean James, Author, Jean Freeman, With
Florence Bean James with Jean Freeman. University of Regina (UTP, North American dist.), $34.95 (298p) ISBN 978-0-88977-260-1
Reviewed on: 04/07/2014
Release date: 09/01/2013
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-0-88977-261-8
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Fleeing to Canada to escape the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s, James (1892–1988) was a grand figure of Saskatchewan's theatre world. This volume focuses on the long years before her move to Canada, years informed by an inherent idealism and egalitarianism often alien to the nation of her birth. With husband Burton, James invested decades of work at the Cornish School and the Seattle Repertory Playhouse in steadfast efforts to break down the arbitrary barriers imposed by classism, racism and sexism. Ultimately, the forces of reaction in the form of the Un-American Activities Committee would win out, at least for a time. Providentially, Canada had adopted pro-arts policies of the very kind that got the Jameses investigated in the US; relocation north was a logical move. Burton died in 1951, but James lived many decades more, and Canada would benefit immeasurably from the United States' lapse in judgment. Co-written by author and actress Jean Freeman, with an introduction by Mary Blackstone and epilogue by Rita Shelton Deverell, the work is an enthralling first person autobiography, an examination of what can be done by persons of good will, knowledge and talent. (Apr.)
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