Calvert, Dave (2012) Carnival of the Mundane: Red Oktober at England’s National Tramway Museum. In: Performance Studies International, 27th June - 1st July 2012, Leeds University, Leeds, UK. (Unpublished)

This paper is a consideration of two complementary curiosities: the first is Red Oktober, an annual event held at the National Tramway Museum in Crich, Derbyshire which imagines urban Eastern bloc communism in the heart of rural middle England. The second curiosity is Mikhail Bakhtin’s paradoxical reflection that the medieval carnival is both irredeemably lost to modern (and post-modern) sensibilities, while he asserts, at the same time, that its ‘true festive character is indestructible’ (Bakhtin, 1984, p.9). Assessments of the carnivalesque remain divided on its efficacy whether as a space of political liberation or a space of reactionary catharsis. My argument here returns to Bakhtin’s understanding of the carnival as critically neither, but an open space whose ‘true festive character’ is an immersive second-life which he defines as ‘hostile to all that was immortalized and completed’.

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