The Futurism movement began in Italy in 1909 with Filippo Marinetti and The Futurist Synthetic Theatre Manifesto. Futurist performance evenings, known as ‘searate’, were a mixture of poetry readings, visual art displays, performed plays and most important of all – manifesto readings. The Futurist play was often frighteningly short (sometimes only a moment or two in duration), consisting of telegraphic dialogue, akin to some works of the Theatre of the Absurd. The Poor Theatre of Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960s and 70s bore some resemblance to Futurist practices, in that it also experimented with performers moving in and around the spectators. And yet, Futurist theatre evenings also borrowed from music hall and variety in their structure and form, with a series of short acts presented one after the other. – Justin Cash
Futurism Theatre Resources
Excellent lecture notes on the Futurism movement in the theatre (archived) by academic Paul Jackson, outlining its main practitioners, form and conventions.
“Although it began as a literary movement, Futurism soon embraced the visual arts as well as advertising, fashion, music and theater, and it spread throughout Italy and beyond. The Futurists rejected stasis and tradition and drew inspiration from the emerging industry, machinery, and speed of the modern metropolis. “Guggenheim Museum
Detailed article explaining various aspects of Futurist theatre in perofrmace.
Excellent essay discussing the characteristics of Futurist theatre and the nature of the audience.
Wikipedia entry on Futurism with references to the theatre and plays belonging to the movement.
Outstanding article “The Art of Noise: Sounds of the Italian Futurists” focusing on artist and composer Luigi Russolo and the types of sounds and experimental instruments involved in his work.
“From 1910 onwards, they (the Futurists) gave performances during which they read their manifestoes, gave concerts, read poems, performed plays, and exhibited works of visual art – at times several of these simultaneously.”— Oscar Brockett, History of the Theatre
Very useful Prezi on Futurist theatre outlining playwrights, dramatic form, scenic design, costumes and music.
The Futurist manifesto titled The Futurist Synthetic Theatre (1915) by F.T. Marinetti, Emilio Settimelli, Bruno Corra.
His (Luigig Russolo) “sound families” were as follows:
Roars, Thunderings, Explosions, Hissing roars, Bangs, Booms
Whistling, Hissing, Puffing
Whispers, Murmurs, Mumbling, Muttering, Gurgling
Screeching, Creaking, Rustling, Buzzing, Crackling, Scraping
Noises obtained by beating on metals, woods, skins, stones, pottery, etc.
Voices of animals and people, Shouts, Screams, Shrieks, Wails, Hoots, Howls, Death rattles, Sobs
– The Art of Noise: Soundscapes of the Italian Futurists
Program for a 2009 MoMA exhibition Futurism and the New Manifesto celebrating the centerary of the 1909 Futurist Manifesto publication by Filippo Mainetti.
Review of an art exhibition described as “the first ever to directly link Italian and Polish Futurism in the context of theatre“. Some great images of Futurust set design.
Anthology of Futurist essays and writings, including a couple on the theatre and scenic design.
(Mina) Loy’s experimental comedies defy conventions of realism, deploying telegraphic language and kinetic scenery in fantastic Futurist settings.– Suzanne Churchill
Article discussing three plays by Futurist poet Mina Loy, including references to dramatic structure and the nature of performance.
Chapter scan on Futurist theatre outlining all aspects including performers, playwrights, characteristic works (including Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi), performance and mechanical movements, plus Synthetic Theatre. Excellent Futurist theatre resources.