Theatre censorship in Portugal during the Estado Novo: Policies, censors, organisation and procedures

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This chapter analyses the operation of censorship of the performing arts during the dictatorship period in Portugal (1926-74) and explores the main issues regarding the circuits of decision-making and the censors’ underlying ideological frameworks. Portugal provides a clear-cut example of a long-lasting authoritarian regime imposing severe restrictions on any cultural production judged to be in conict with its conservative political and moral values, thereby stiing creativity and the expression of courage and difference. Some of the immediate effects on the theatre are easily identiable – plays banned, scripts mutilated, stagings disgured. Others, the effects of self-censorship, are less obvious – the plays never written or never put forward for production on the assumption that censorship made them unstageable; the scripts tailored to what was assumed to be acceptable; the acting styles, costumes and stage designs toned down. Moreover, the effects of theatre censorship last much longer than the time span during which the repressive procedures themselves are in force. In the longer term, censorship has a profound effect on the image that societies have of themselves and spreads fear that lasts for generations. Such consequences apply not only to Portugal, but also to any other country that has experienced censorship, regardless of the historical time period in which it has occurred.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Insights on Theatre Censorship
EditorsCatherine O'Leary, Diego Santos Sánchez, Michael Thompson
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781317500926
ISBN (Print)9781138887039
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2015


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