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Pageantry and the Popular Front: Ideological Production in the 'Thirties

Abstract

The British working-class pageants of the nineteen-thirties were curiously cross-bred between, on the one hand, the resolutely bourgeois civic pageants which had become popular around the turn of the century and remained so still, and, on the other, the new Soviet style of mass-declamations with agit-prop intent. Often ignored even by left-wing theatre historians, these pageants drew on other influences varying from endemic communal forms of creation such as choirs and processions to the work of contemporary, left-leaning ‘high art’ poets and musicians. Here, Mick Wallis looks in detail at one such pageant, Music and the People, mounted in London in April 1939, and at the tripartite five-day festival of which it formed a part. He goes on to explore the politics, aesthetics, and logistics of this long-neglected form of popular performance. Mick Wallis, who teaches drama at Loughborough University, has recently published on using Raymond Williams's work in the integration of practical and academic approaches to teaching. His one-man act, Sir John Feelgood and Marjorie, was an experiment in popular form for the sake of left-wing benefits.

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New Theatre Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0266-464X
  • EISSN: 1474-0613
  • URL: /core/journals/new-theatre-quarterly
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