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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

After the October Revolution, Bolshevik state leaders, capitalizing on the popularity of Russian festivals, began producing mass spectacles that enabled the creation of a new mythology that in turn established a new sense of identity for some of the people living under Soviet rule. Produced in open-air arenas, the tightly choreographed spectacles combined propaganda and dramatic art. They communicated whatever message the regime required in a way that other forms of communication could never do— the spatial arrangements of thousands of bodies (amateur performers with sometimes no training or prior experience), combined with costumes, music, and a highly stylized acting technique were uniquely effective tools of communication. Although it is impossible to measure the political efficacy of a mass spectacle, what is clear is that Bolshevik leaders capitalized on the symbolic potency of certain national fixtures—like the cruiser Aurora and the Winter Palace—and manipulated them through theater and movement.

Keywords: The Storming of the Winter Palace, mass spectacle, soviet theater, propaganda, revolutionary art, agit-prop, nationalism, Bolshevik Revolution, total theater, Russian theater

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