Mass Spectacle

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mass Spectacle

 

a staged spectacle in which large masses of people take part as actors or spectators.

Mass spectacles are usually held outdoors—in squares and streets, in parks, and in stadiums. Ancient Greek festivals, competitions, and games, such as the Olympic and Pythian games, are striking examples of mass spectacles. In the Middle Ages, the mass spectacle took the form of the mystery play. In 17th-century England, May Day celebrations were staged; the principal event of such celebrations was a play about the legendary folk hero Robin Hood. During the French Revolution there were propaganda mass presentations imbued with revolutionary enthusiasm. Representatives from 83 departments of France took part in a festival on the Field of Mars on July 14, 1790.

In Russia, the mass spectacle was initially associated with village holidays and folk traditions. During the 15th and 16th centuries, mass spectacles became part of the church service. New and large-scale forms of mass popular celebrations arose after the October Revolution of 1917. Between 1918 and 1921, the following large-scale presentations were staged: “A Mass Spectacle About the Third International,” “Mystery Play About Liberated Labor,” “Toward a World Commune,” and “The Storming of the Winter Palace” (all in Petrograd), and “The Struggle of Labor and Capital” (in Irkutsk). These mass spectacles were staged by major Soviet directors, including N. V. Petrov, K. A. Mardzhanov, and N. P. Okhlopkov. In subsequent years, mass spectacles based on a particular theme and staged at stadiums became very widespread. During the Sixth International Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow in 1957, the solemn opening ceremonies of the festival were held at a stadium and the final rally and performance was held in Manezh Square. In Sevastopol’ in 1961, there was a mass performance of Prologue, about the defense of Sevastopol’ in 1854-55; in this performance, the most important episodes of the battles of this heroic city during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) were also recreated.

REFERENCES

Lunacharskii, A. V. “O narodnykh prazdnestvakh.” In his Teatr i revoliutsiia. Moscow, 1924. Pages 63-67.
Istoriia sovetskogo teatra, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1933. Pages 264-90.

A. I. DUBINSKAIA

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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