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Italian Immigrant Radical CultureThe Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940$
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Marcella Bencivenni

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814791035

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814791035.001.0001

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Politics and Leisure

Politics and Leisure

The Italian American Radical Stage

Chapter:
(p.99) 4 Politics and Leisure
Source:
Italian Immigrant Radical Culture
Author(s):

Marcella Bencivenni

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814791035.003.0005

This chapter looks at the sovversivi's most popular and effective of these recreational activities: the radical stage. Focusing on several plays that have survived, it discusses the use of drama as a medium of political propaganda and as a form of popular entertainment and artistic self-expression. Radical plays were staged in the sovversivi's social clubs, in unions' auditoriums, in cafés, at picnic grounds, or, in the case of special occasions, in hired halls of local theaters. Plays were never staged alone. Like the American vaudeville, the sovversivi's stage included a wide variety of material such as songs, poems, monologues, dancing skits, raffles, and games like the popular tombola (bingo). The Italian American radical stage tried to satisfy the demands of both art and politics, providing a major creative outlet for radical intellectuals as well as an important opportunity for political action. It also acquainted Italian Americans, many of whom had little formal schooling, with literary classics and important social issues and political ideas.

Keywords:   Italian Americans, sovversivi, political propaganda, drama, Italian immigrant workers

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