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23 JANUARY 2014

The emergence of living newspapers in the early twentieth century

"The roots of the 'living newspaper' in Europe can be traced to Italian futurism in the early decades of the twentieth century. It was in the young Soviet Union (and principally the Moscow Institute of Journalism), however, that it was developed into a recognisable form of agitprop theatre. Performed by small bands of propagandists, the scripts for zhivaya gazeta were often pasted together from materials found in newspapers–though a high degree of improvisation was also encouraged–and were designed to provide illiterate audiences (such as workers or Red Army recruits) with details of campaigns, battles or other newsworthy events (Casson, 2000). Plays were performed on street corners or in other public spaces, with the aid of a handful of props and simple yet highly symbolic costumes [2].

By the late 1920s, however, zhivaya gazeta were already being seen as passé by many dramatists in the Soviet Union, with all forms of 'revolutionary agitational art' becoming 'increasingly unwelcome', and official attention turning towards the development of more sophisticated forms of theatre in the lead up to the adoption of socialist realism as official state doctrine in 1932 (Frolova‐Walker, 2006: 185). Indeed, Stalin disbanded the Blue Blouse Group, the main exponent of zhivaya gazeta, in 1928 (Casson, 2000:109)."

(Jeremy Taylor. p.29)

[2] Top hats, for instance, were used with much frequency to mark out a particular character as being bourgeois (Tolstoy, 1998: 24).

Jeremy E.Taylor (2013). The Sinification of Soviet Agitational Theatre: 'Living Newspapers' in Mao's China, Journal of the British Association for Chinese Studies, Vol. 2 July 2013.

TAGS

agitational art • agitprop theatre • Blue Blouse Group • dramaturgyearly twentieth centuryFuturism (art movement) • huobaoju • illiterate audiences • improvisationinterventionist art • Jeremy Taylor • John Casson • Journal of the British Association for Chinese Studies • Leo Tolstoy • living newspaper • Marina Frolova-Walker • Moscow Institute of Journalism • newspapers • newsworthy events • pasted together • propaganda • propagandist • public spacesRed Army • revolutionary acts • revolutionary agitational art • socialist realismSoviet Union • state doctrine • street theatre • symbolic costumes • theatre form • theatre history • transformational narrative • yangbanxi • zhivaya gazeta

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
14 APRIL 2012

Practising Theatre History as Research

"Much current scholarship in the field of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, including my own, focuses on the actual performance of plays in their own or later periods, regarding the texts that survive as, in different ways, blueprints for performance, and exploring them in the context of their performance spaces, actors and theatre–practice and of other agencies such as audiences that impact upon those texts in performance. My own research in these areas is largely conducted through practice.

But let me just sketch a brief background. In 1998, a sea–change occurred in the lives of arts (as opposed to humanities) researchers in the UK, with the creation of the Arts & Humanities Research Board (now Council) which, for the first time, funded practice–led research in the creative arts. I cannot stress too heavily the impact this had on the landscape of research in the performing arts.

That's not to say, of course, that research through practice had not been conducted before then. If I take my own department at Bristol as an example, scholars such as Glynne Wickham, Richard Southern and Neville Denny were experimenting from the early 1950s by staging medieval and early modern plays, and using their findings in their published work.

But the arrival of the AHRB not only provided funding for practice–led research in the academy, but in so doing, confirmed it as being as valid and – not to be underestimated – as respectable as research conducted through more traditional or conventional means. And – a point to which I shall return – it opened up debates not only on how such research might most profitably be conducted, but how it might be disseminated in forms other than the books or journal articles that had predominated – and be disseminated, in fact, through the practice/performance itself."

(Martin White)

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TAGS

1950s1998AHRBAHRCArts and Humanities Research BoardArts and Humanities Research Council • blueprints for performance • Bristolconducting researchcontribution to knowledge • Cornish • Cornish Ordinalia • Cornwallcreative artsdesign researchdesign researcherdissemination through performance • dissemination through practice • early modern period • Elizabethan drama • fourteenth century • funding for practice-led research • Glynne Wickham • history of theatre • Jacobean drama • journal articlesmedieval • medieval mystery plays • model of enquiry • Neville Denny • Ordinalia • Origo Mundi • Passio Christi • passion of Christperformance researchperformance spacesperforming arts • plays • practice as research in performancepractice-led research • practising theatre • publishing and disseminationresearch dissemination • research in the performing arts • research scholarshipresearch through practice • researchers in the UK • Resurrexio Domini • Richard Southern • staging • surviving texts • texts in performance • the academytheatre • theatre audiences • theatre history • theatre practice • theatrical performancetheoretical contextUKvalid scholarship

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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