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Marinettis The Variety Theatre (1913)

Background on Marinetti
- Born Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944) in Alexandria, Egypt
o Described as short in stature with irregular features and a dark olive complexion,
sporting an upturned Prussian style moustache and dressed impeccably in the
requisite Futurist uniform, which consisted of a black bowler and a black topcoat
over a black suit and black bow tie.
- From 1898 to 1902 he wrote about theatre as the Italian correspondent for the Parisian
Revue dart dramatique (which means Drama Review).
o He attacked the older generation of theatre because he rejected verist realism in
favor of Wagnerian music drama (which was an opera that fused together all
musical, poetic, and dramatic elements) and the heroes written by Gabriele
D'Annunzio who was a playwright. [Marinetti defended his play The Dead City
when it was given in Milan.]
Verism the theory that rigid representation of truth and reality is essential
to art and literature, and therefore the ugly and vulgar must be included.
Standing above the multitude, the artist had limitless power to express the
inexpressible, reveal the unknown, and escape the mediocrity of life. (pg.
- The Founding Manifesto of Futurism was published in the Parisian Figaro in 1908. (pg.
o [Research: Marinetti wrote the manifesto in the autumn of 1908 and it was
published in Milan in January of 1909. It was published in the Italian newspaper
Gazzetta dellEmilia in Bologna on February 5, 1909 and then in French as
Manifeste du Futurisme (Manifesto of Futurism) in the newspaper Le Figaro on
February 20, 1909.]
o Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in 1909
that violently rejected traditional forms so as to incorporate into art the energy and
dynamism of modern technology.
o With this Marinetti turned his back on the past, abandoning the sickly nostalgic
poetry of distance and memory for the modern sights and sounds of the noisy,
mechanical metropolis with its electrical culture. He was in favor of blending art
and technology and showing that which would insult the audience. (pg. 419-420)
o A quote from The Founding Manifesto of Futurism Art, in fact, can be nothing
but violence, cruelty, and injustice. (pg. 420)
He describes success as being measured by the hail of potatoes, tomatoes,
and chestnuts with which the audience would pelt him.
- Marinetti went to France, England, Russia, and other countries in Europe as a one-man
show lecture-demonstration tour in order to export the principles of Futurism.
o He delivered these lectures rapid-fire. He produced an astounding array of sounds
while he moved about in a way one would in a speeded-up film.
Fisicofollia, or body-madness, was central to his aesthetic of
astonishment. (pg. 420)
His arms shot out to the side or straight up in the air. He pounded the
podium with his fists, bared his teeth, rolled and flashed his eyes, gulping

down glass after glass or water without ever stopping once to catch his
breath. (pg. 420) [Read out of book]
The Futurists would plan raids on cultural institutions. They would stop performances
and interrupt the lectures of professors of aesthetics.