Public spectacles and private enterprises : theater and politics in Italy under fascism, 1919-1940 / by Mabel Berezin.
This thesis explores the relation between theatricality and politics in fascist Italy. Its empirical focus is a case study of the Italian theater in the years between 1919 and 1940. Italian fascism in its movement and regime phases found spokesmen and supporters in the theater. Fascism as political movement borrowed its ideology and rhetoric from the theatrical movement, Futurism; fascism as regime created a bureaucratic space within the fascist state for theatrical movements. This work seeks to explain the unexpected affinity between theater and politics in fascist Italy. It argues: (1) that theatricality was not a disembodied concept but an attribute of real social actors making choices about their actions within a certain set of structural constraints; and (2) that even in a totalitarian society, ideology alone did not effect the design of a cultural product. It tells three stories: (1) it describes the process whereby the members of the Italian theatrical community used the fascist regime to enhance their professional status and lost control of the theater; (2) it examines the pattern of regime theatrical subsidies; and (3) it presents a comparative case study of the fascist appropriation of Socialist people's theater. The fascist regime created a public and private sphere in the theater. Clientalism dominated the market sphere and competition dominated the public sphere. Content of plays was secondary in both spheres. The public sphere enforced the notion of collectivity. Within this sphere, the form of theater took precedence to content and it was through form that fascist meaning was conveyed. Private enterprises, in the financial and artistic sphere, fused with public spectacles to create a fascist theater. Meaning and culture was not a process of coercion but a process of political bargaining.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:46:00
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