Vsevolod Meyerhold

Vsevolod Meyerhold (fəsyĕ´vəlŭt mē´ûrhōlt), 1874–1940?, Russian theatrical director and producer. Meyerhold led the revolt against naturalism in the Russian theater. Working with the Moscow Art Theater, he experimented with his own directing ideas until the outbreak of the Revolution. Meyerhold was a member of the Bolshevik party, and as head of theatrical activities for the state he directed the first theater to specialize in Soviet plays. He was among the earliest advocates of the theater of the absurd. In his avant-garde productions he employed various grotesque elements, pantomimes, and acrobatics, emphasizing the plays' visual, nonverbal aspects. He produced Bolshevik propaganda dramas, using bare constructivist settings and formalized scenery, and eliminating the curtain. Meyerhold directed his actors according to his principle of "biomechanics," reducing the actors' individual contributions to a minimum, in the interests of the play as a whole. His work eventually became unprofitable, and the state discontinued his subsidy. He was an outspoken opponent of socialist realism. A victim of the Soviet purges, Meyerhold died under circumstances that remain unclear; the date of his death is open to question.

See Meyerhold on Theater, ed. by E. Braun (1969); biography by M. L. Hoover (1974); J. M. Symons, Meyerhold's Theatre of the Grotesque (1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Vsevolod Meyerhold
Jonathan Pitches.
Routledge, 2003
Meyerhold and His Set Designers
Marjorie L. Hoover.
Peter Lang, 1988
The Theater of Meyerhold and Brecht
Katherine Bliss Eaton.
Greenwood Press, 1985
The Director and the Stage: From Naturalism to Grotowski
Edward Braun.
Holmes & Meier, 1982
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Meyerhold - The First Five Years"and Chap. 9 "Meyerhold - Theater as Propaganda"
Makers of Modern Theatre: An Introduction
Robert Leach.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold"
The Soviet Theatre
P. A. Markov.
V. Gollancz, 1934
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Meyerhold"
Russian Theater from the Empire to the Soviets
Marc Slonim.
World Publishing, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "From 'The World of Art' to Meyerhold"
FREE! The Russian Theatre
Oliver M. Sayler.
Brentano's, 1922
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIII "Meyerhold and the Theater Theatrical"
Directors on Directing: A Source Book of the Modern Theater
Toby Cole; Helen Krich Chinoy.
Bobbs-Merrill, 1963 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1942): The Theater Theatrical" begins on p. 164
Commedia Dell'Arte: An Actor's Handbook
John Rudlin.
Routledge, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Meyerhold Dappertutto" begins on p. 167
Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self
Randy Martin.
Bergin & Garvey, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Meyerhold's Carnival" begins on p. 135
Acting (Re)considered: A Theoretical and Practical Guide
Phillip B. Zarrilli.
Routledge, 2002 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Meyerhold's Biomechanics"
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