Beautiful ideas worth dying for
Walsh, Kelsey Marie
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Futurism offers an invaluable perspective on the rise of interventionism and nationalism in Italy and the role of theater to popularly inspire and achieve these political ends. In the early years of the movement, the Futurists used theater for explicitly interventionist propaganda in order to break the recently reunified Italy of their provincialist sentiments and forcibly move the country into a new era of industrial, economic and social progress. The movement was marked by reverence for war, contempt for the passéism of the old Italy, veneration of youth, and love of spectacle. The Futurists were masters of advertisement and used this skill to attract people to their first serate, which sought to break the apathy of viewers and drive people to political action. The plays and manifestos performed and declaimed at these early serate were blatantly anti-neutral and succeeded in changing the concept of Italian theater, if not immediately the minds of attendees. Futurist theater, as discussed in history, is often depicted as revolutionary, yet when their political views are considered, they fall short of such acclaim and have been labeled reactionary. The dichotomy between these two appraisals of Futurist ideology allowed for a politically motivated theater that was still able to elicit shocking reactions from their spectators because they could, at some level, agree with many of their political beliefs. Futurist theater formed an outlet for nationalist and interventionist politics and a means of involving the people of Italy in a truly nationalist fight for their own identity.