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MASS THEATRE in Inter-war Europe Flanders and the Netherlands in an International Perspective

Edited by Thomas Crombez and Luk Van den Dries (Visual Poetics)

Leuven University Press

ISBN: 9789058679925

With contributions by Staf Vos (Het Firmament), Karel Vanhaesebrouck (Université Libre de Bruxelles/Rits), Evelien Jonckheere (Ghent University), Ad van der Logt (Leiden University), Frank Peeters (University of Antwerp)


In many European countries, mass theatre was a popular expression of ‘community art,’ which became more and more popular shortly before the First World War. From Max Reinhardt’s lavish open-air spectacles to Socialist workers’ Laienspiel (lay theatre), theatre visionaries focused on ever larger groups for entertainment as well as political agitation.

In spite of the wide research on the Soviet and German cases, examples from the Low Countries have hardly been examined. However, mass plays in Flanders and the Netherlands had a unique feature, since they displayed an ideological heterogeneity not seen elsewhere. Research in this peculiar phenomenon and the European context in which it functioned sheds light on the broader framework of the interwar period and its mass movements.

This book resulted from an on-going research project at the University of Antwerp, entitled “Mass Spectacle in Flanders 1909-1955: A historical, discursive, and political examination of socio-theatrical events”, funded by FWO-Vlaanderen (Flemish Research Foundation).

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