Discuss the production of theatre under totalitarianism and how it differed from theatre in a free society during 1915-1945.

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two important totalitarian western cultures for theatre history in the period between World War I and World War II, that of communist Russia and Nazi Germany. The main difference between these theatres and those in countries like Britain, the United States, and pre-Occupation France was that it was extremely dangerous to say anything opposed to the regime but also that there was extremely good funding for ideologically correct drama. For example, the Nazis supported extravagant stagings of the operas of Richard Wagner as well funding propagandistic films. In order to avoid prosecution, playwrights and producers either avoided controversy, by re-staging the classics or emphasizing the apolitical, or used highly symbolic or indirect modes of critique (e.g. staging Antigone as a protest against oppression). It should be noted that the United States under McCarthyism was not entirely free; Arthur Miller wrote 'The Crucible' about the Salem witch trials as a critique of the anti-communist witch hunts immediately following WW II and anti-war drama was also problematic.

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