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Drama: DRAMA 255 - Carnival

Starting points for research in drama
URL: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/drama

Background Information

What is Carnival?

  • The ebook Holidays Around the World has many different short encyclopedia entries on Carnival, each focused on a different country. Each entry briefly describes the major characteristics and timeframe for how that particular geographic location and culture celebrates Carnival. (Ebook allows multiple simultaneous readers.)
  • For a bit of a longer and more historical view, check out the entry on Carnival from the (ebook) Encyclopedia of Religion. This will particularly help you understand the Catholic roots of this festival.

What do you wear for Carnival?

  • The (ebook) Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion provides an interesting overview on the various cultural contributions to Carnival clothing, particularly focused on African/Caribbean traditions.
  • The bibliographic essay Carnivalesque Dress by Benjamin Wild provides a good overview on clothing worn in Carnivals and how it has changed over the centuries.
    • Pro Tip: Be sure to get all the way to the "References and Further Reading" section for a core listing of other materials on the topic. Click on the "Find in Library" links to see if they're available at UCI Libraries.
  • A good (brief) overview of modern Carnival Dress was written by Babatunde Lawal in the Berg Companion to Fashion.
    • Pro Tip: Scroll all the way to the bottom for links to related content, like an article on "Carnaval Costume in Brazil," etc.

Where can I search for high quality images of Carnival?

  • AP Images will be the best starting point for great pictures plus context. Click on the link, then choose "UC Irvine." Try searching for Carnival and you'll find more than 15,000 images. Narrow it down by adding in the name of a country or location as well. For example, carnival and Germany will retrieve over 1,000 images. Most images are fairly contemporary from the 21st century.

How can I find more information than what's listed here?

  • Here's a library catalog search for materials that are about Carnival. This is quite broad and includes items like books describing the history of these celebrations, streaming video that documents them, plays and novels that are centered around them, etc. I encourage you to use the limiters on the left side of the page to narrow your search down a bit more (particularly whether you want to find something "available online").
  • You should always feel comfortable reaching out directly to me for more focused help too! Email me at: stonesm@uci.edu

Afro-Caribbean/New Orleans

History/Social Information

Images

Streaming Videos

  • Caribbean Carnivals - Beginning in Trinidad Carnival, this video examines carnivals on every Caribbean island. It explores the unique forms of each celebration and reveals their shared role as a path to the liberation of the spirit.
  • Carnival (Trinidad & Tobago) - Documentary on Trinidad carnival
  • Carnival in Dominica - Carnival on the streets of Roseau, Dominica
  • Celebration - This joyous, upbeat film explodes with the color, music, and pride of Carnival in America's largest Caribbean community. Modeled after the one held "back home" in the islands, this has become an annual event in New York, bringing together Caribbean immigrants from virtually every island in the West Indies. It is filled with striking visual displays of costumed performers, infectious calypso music, steel bands, a mosaic of tropical food, and rocking and jumping crowds. But the film shows more than simply the Caribbean capacity for celebration. It captures the thoughts and feelings of expatriate West Indians, as they are interviewed during preparations leading up to the Carnival.
  • Cimarrón Spirit: Afro-Dominican Maroon Culture - Cimarron Spirit explores carnival traditions such as the ritualistic fire burning of the masks and costumes of "Judas," "Cocoricamo," and "Tifuas," as figures important to the cimarron culture of Elias Pina. We also document the similar yet unique ritualistic practices around the figure of "Las Cachuas de Cabral" in the region of Barahona, and the popular "Los Negros de La Joya" and "El Peje" that so much reflect cimarron communal behaviors and beliefs.
  • Mardi Gras - It's the biggest, wildest, sexiest, dirtiest party in the world and no one can do it better than the people of New Orleans! This is Mardi Gras. More than a million people, a hundred parades and a thousand tons of garbage, all packed into the beautiful, wild streets of New Orleans, Louisiana for twelve full days of raucous fun. Music! Parades! Trash! And tradition! This is a celebration like none other. We'll take you behind the scenes to see what this unique party is all about.

Other Sites

  • Louisiana Digital Media Archive: Mardi Gras - free videos from the LA State Archives that cover various aspects of Mardi Gras, both historical and contemporary
  • Notting Hill Carnival: Arts and Culture Google tour - While Notting Hill is in London, it's founding by Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the 1960s is more akin to the Caribbean carnivals than to the European ones. This excellent site was created to help revelers experience some of the energy and magic of this massive celebration when it had to be cancelled due to COVID.

Brazil/South America

History/Social Information

Images

Streaming Videos

  • Actress the Bishop & The Carnival Queen - Examines the traditional annual Brazilian carnival where rival groups dress up in costumes and choose a carnival king and queen. It examines the history and roots of the custom, which was introduced for the slaves in the 17th century, but which was also intermerged with a festival for a West African god, master of rebellion, chaos and revellry.Divination, sacrifice, spirit possession and withcraft are also elements that play a part in the carnival.
  • Carnival in Q'eros: Where the Mountains Meet the Jungle - This groundbreaking documentary shows the remarkable Carnival celebrations -- never before seen by outsiders -- of a remote community of Indians high in the Peruvian Andes. Their culture offers important clues into the Inca past and the roots of Andean cultures.
  • Festive Land: Carnaval in Bahia - This perceptive and engaging documentary examines one of the largest and most extraordinary popular celebrations in the world, the week-long Carnaval that brings more than two million people to the streets of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil. Carnaval is the most expressive showcase of the unique cultural richness of Bahia, where African culture has survived, prospered, and evolved, mixing with other Brazilian influences to create forms found nowhere else in the world. The film captures this unique cultural energy through extraordinary footage of musical performances, dances, religious manifestations, and street celebrations.At the same time, Carnaval reflects the racial and social tensions of Brazil's heterogeneous society. 
  • The Next Samba - Behind the scenes of the biggest samba school on the planet, Estacao Primeira de Mangueira, after 14 years without winning the contest, the entire universe created for Mangueira's parade, which is an international carnival icon, was documented for the first time, from the first step to the title of best samba school in 2016.
  • Samba: On Your Feet - In Samba On Your Feet the filmmakers go behind the Carioca milieu to document samba and carnival. The one-hour documentary traces the influences that contributed to shape the music that consecrated Carnival as one of the most powerful cultural manifestations in Brazil. Roots and perspectives, flesh and ghosts, entities and divinities spread across the slums and over the sidewalks of Salvador, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro are essential to the make-up of the Brazilian musical exponent par excellence. Samba On Your Feet introduces the voices of Cartola, Caetano Veloso, Ismael Silva, Clara Nunes, Clementina and many others whose perspectives on the cultural affairs of Rio de Janeiro that have been carefully articulated with interviews to exponents of the Brazilian culture today. This dialogue between past and present takes place throughout the movie between precious scenes of archive footage from private collection, and government resources.

Other Sites

  • Carnival: The Free Body - An online photography exhibit from the Instituto Moreira Salles that draws from its vast collection of Carnival pictures to tell the story of the development and cultural impact of Carnival in Brazil.

Europe

History/Social Information

Images

Streaming Videos

  • Carnival: King of Europe - Award-winning ethnographic kaleidoscope featuring over 50 different masquerades of some 13 European countries. Thanks to some careful editing, the underlying structure of European winter masked ritual is made apparent, from fear (Act 1) to ceremony (Act 2: the marital cortege + ritual ploughing) to the burlesque (Act 3), and finally to a sobering Epilogue on the pyre. All winter masquerades in Europe – and there are hundreds all over the continent – seem to bear reference at some level to this single hidden script, and “Carnival King of Europe” demonstrates it with exceptionally persuasive visuals. 
  • Fiddling Away: Carnival in Caffaro - Bagolino and Ponte Caffaro host the largest surviving ensemble of folk violin in the Alps, which makes Carnival a leap back into the Renaissance roots of the violin itself.
  • Koza Szymborska: The Day of the Goat in Szymborze - The Koza or Goat is animal that gives the masquerade its name throughout Eastern Europe, from Romania to Moldavia and the Ukraine, and all the way to northern Poland where we filmed it.
  • The Day of the Zanni - The Zanni of central Italy, are the same as the Pulcinella of the South of Italy or the Lachè in the North. They are Carnival heralds, clad in white, with a pointed, ribboned, imposing headpiece.
  • Three Carnivals and a Half - One day in Valfloriana, one day in Grauno in Val di Cembra, one day in Palù del Fersina in the Val dei Mòcheni) following three (and a half ...) of the most significant traditional carnivals that still take place in Trentino. Far from the now prevalent format of the parade of masked wagons, these carnivals actually correspond to as many winter fertility rites as they are found in folklore throughout Europe.

Other Sites

  • Europeana: Carnival Celebrations - Europeana draws together images from European-based cultural sites (e.g., libraries, museums, etc.). This is a small curated collection of contemporary and historical images from Carnival celebrations across the continent.