An Itch You Can’t Scratch Futurism is a movement in the 20th century that valued technology’s beauty. In their works of art the Futurists tried to capture the experience of a modern world transformed by steam engines, electricity, automobiles, and airplanes. Futurist art was an appreciation of life and sought to obliterate the contemplative concept of art. Instead of standing separate from the experience of the modern world, Futurist artists threw themselves into the battle against a tame past and a liberating future.
During the first decade of the 20th century, a group of young Italian painters came together under the influence of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, an Italian poet and writer. They dabbled in every medium of art including painting, sculpture, theatre and much more. Marinetti launched this movement in his Futurist Manifesto, which was published February 5, 1909. After it was published, it quickly spread to France, Germany, Russia and the Americas. This movement was the first organized, radical art movement of this century. Their manifestos were meant to shock and provoke the audience.
Marinetti’s ideas came from his loath for tame virtues and tastes. His ideas were radical. He believed that it was time to create a new form of art for the people, based on the beauty of speed and the power and force of machinery. It was clear that Marinetti was trying to make Futurism break away from the past and create something completely new and compelling. The Futurists loved speed, noise, machines, pollution, and cities; they embraced the exciting new world that was upon them rather than enjoying the modern world’s comforts while disapproving the forces that made them possible.
Futurism was a celebration of the machine age, glorifying war and favoring the growth of fascism. Futurist painting and sculpture were concerned with expressing movement and the dynamics of natural and man-made forms. Futurism in theatre, however, was very short lived. The futurist plays sought to transform the audience from just mere spectators to being active participants in the show. Marinetti presented a whole list of suggestions on how to cause laughter, commotion and fighting. The plays would incorporate the audience with antics such as spreading the seats with glue, or sprinkling itching powder on the seats.
They also provoked the audience by overselling the tickets so there were not enough seats for the people who had purchased the tickets. This would lead to the fighting. These antics were meant to annoy and enrage the audience, forcing them to feel emotion when they were at the play and to physically participate. These emotions were obviously not positive emotions, which is why this form of theatre was not very popular and it did not last very long. Because after they aroused their audience, they failed to guide them to their ideals.
Futurist theatre ended in the late 20th century. I chose this topic for my paper because it was one of the movements of theatre that really stuck out to me. I loved the idea of including the audience and transforming them from mere voyeurs but this was obviously not the way to do that. I could not believe some of the things they did to their audience. I could not believe they actually spread itching powder and glue on the seats. There are many more appropriate ways to involve an audience. This was just disrespectful to the audience.
I can understand why this form of theatre was so short-lived. These antics would drive away the audience and make them too distracted to even enjoy the show. The show would then go unnoticed. I do not understand how they thought this was a good idea. The seating area is supposed to be relaxing and comfortable. The audience should feel welcomed while viewing a show, not angered and provoked by tactics involved with the seating area. They should have focused on more positive ways to engage the audience without provoking them.