Carnival

Street and folk theatre are closely associated with carnival. The term, meaning literally "meat farewell," is derived from the Shrove Tuesday or pre-Lenten festivals. Possibly the most famous staged carnival in twentieth-century theatre is Diaghilev's Ballets Russes production of Petrouchka. One of the oldest and most famous is the annual Venetian carnival, which has been the source for numerous paintings and novels, and provided many roles for the commedia dell'arte. Today, carnival expresses any number of religious feast days, cultural holidays, or general street reveling. It also usually contains a competitive aspect (associated with costumes) and is centered on a parade. Victor Turner has devoted much study to the relation between folk carnival and theatre, while Bakhtin's theories of the Carnivalesque (derived from his study of Rabelais) have been widely adopted as a critical tool. Today, Carnival in Rio may have the most cachet, but the source for the most popular carnivals is in the Caribbean, where the celebration marks the end of Lent, as much as historical liberation from colonialism - and this tradition has been carried over to Notting Hill in London and Caribana in Toronto, both of which are mounted in mid-summer.

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