Theatre Policies of Soviet Stalinism and Italian Fascism Compared, 1920-1940S – New Theatre Quarterly – article

Theatre Policies of Soviet Stalinism and Italian Fascism Compared, 1920-1940S

Alexander Golovlev | New Theatre Quarterly


In this article Alexander Golovlev offers a comparative examination of the theatre policies of Fascist Italy and Stalinist Soviet Union. He argues that, although the two regimes shared parallel time frames and gravitated around similar institutional solutions, Italian Fascism was fundamentally different in its reluctance to destroy the privately based theatre structure in favour of a state theatre and to impose a unified style, while Stalin carried out an ambitious and violent campaign to instil Socialist Realism through continuous disciplining, repression, and institutional supervision. In pursuing a nearly identical goal of achieving full obedience, the regimes used different means, and obtained similarly mixed results. While the Italian experience ended with the defeat of Fascism, Soviet theatres underwent de-Stalinization in the post-war decades, indicating the potential for sluggish stability in such frameworks of cultural-political control. Alexander Golovlev is Research Fellow at the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, National Research University, Higher School of Economics / Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, and ATLAS Fellow, Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines/ Université Paris-Saclay. His most recent publications include ‘Sounds of Music from across the Sea: Musical Transnationality in Early Post-World-War-II Austria’, in Yearbook of Transnational History 1 (2018) and ‘Von der Seine an die Salzach: die Teilnahme vom Straßburger Domchor an den Salzburger Festspielen und die französische Musikdiplom atie in Österreich während der alliierten Besatzungs zeit’, Journal of Austrian Studies (2018). He is currently working on the political economy of the Bolshoi theatre under Stalinism.


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