Reference Guide to Russian Literature

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the past of the I950s, which is expressed through jazz music. As a result of internal quarrels Vasil'ev had to leave the Stanislavskii Theatre and was offered the small stage at the Taganka Theatre, where for several years he rehearsed Slavkin's next play, Cerceau. This was premiered in 1985 and has been acclaimed as the best production of the I980s.The 40-year old "Rooster" invites some colleagues, neighbours, and accidental acquaintances for a weekend at a dacha. All the characters lead their own lives without revealing their true feelings. After a series of excursions into the past, the tragic isolation of each of them becomes apparent, and yet they are incapable of sharing more of their lives with each other. In 1987 Vasil'ev set up his own theatre, the School of Dramatic Art. He has since been interested in the process of rehearsal, rather than the result (i.e. performance), and therefore has not completed any production in Moscow since 1987. Initially experimenting with improvisation, he later worked on dialogue structures in Thomas Mann and philosophical treatises. His main concern is the expression of ideas and the relationship of the idea to the speaker. Vasil'ev is without doubt one of the most influential people in terms of the theory of acting and analysis. As a practitioner, though, he has failed.

Mark Zakharov (b. 1933) came to the Theatre of the Lenin Komsomol in 1973 and developed a wide-ranging repertoire, including musical productions, political documentaries, contemporary plays, and classics given a modern interpretation. He has created a reputation for himself by his political engagement in the early stage of perestroika when he was one of the first to catch the spirit of reform, challenging in his articles the interference of bureaucrats. In his productions, he tackled historical issues with a hitherto unknown openness, as in Mikhail Shatrov's Diktatura sovesti [ The Dictatorship of Conscience], which for the first time mentions figures such as Bukharin and Trotskii, who had been blotted out of Soviet history books. He catches the spirit of the time, attracting young audiences with productions such as the rock-opera lunona i Avos' (Perchance) by Voznesenskii and Rybnikov ( 1981).

Lev Dodin has created a fine repertoire at the Malyi Theatre, Leningrad, mainly adapting prose for the stage. He staged a trilogy based on Fedor Abramov's Village Prose, and has adapted Iurii Trifonov, William Golding, and more contemporary writers such as Sergei Kaledin for the stage. His style is much influenced by Liubimov, and often devices echo those from the Taganka's productions. In his more recent work, though, greater emphasis has been placed on character and psychology.

The studio theatres are numerous, but transient. Only those that existed before 1986 have sustained their reputation. These have, however, made a powerful impact on the Russian theatre scene in that they have revived the notion of collective responsibility and have restored intimacy with the audience as opposed to the unconvincing psychologism of the Arts Theatre style in a huge auditorium.

Recent "sensations" include Lysyi briunet [ The Bald Brunette], a non-play by Dana Gink, starring the rock star Petr Mamonov.The bald and the brunette are two facets of one person, who communicate with the past by means of a wardrobe. The language is constructed on accidental alliteration and associative chains, and is nonsensical and illogical. There is no dramatic development, and the play is altogether a slap in the face of public taste. Nevertheless, it proved to be the most popular recent production for young theatre audiences. There is also the director Roman Viktiuk, who established his reputation with a most controversial production of The Maids by Jean Genet. Sharing with Genet homosexual inclinations, Viktiuk cast men for the parts of the maids and produced a show influenced by dance-theatre and using elaborate choreographic scores. He founded his own commercial theatre and relies on star names and titles to attract audiences.

In the absence of censorship and control, directors are for the first time since the Revolution free to experiment, and to return both artistically and economically to pre-revolutionary structures, enriched by the contributions of Soviet directors and influences from the west.

BIRGIT BEUMERS


Experiment and Emigration: Russian Literature, 1917-1953

In the first few years after the 1917 October Revolution, more than three million Russians were beyond the rapidly diminishing geographical borders of the Russian Empire. There were those who were simply swept along by the wind of the proletarian revolution, but in the main the exodus comprised the intelligentsia and the officer class the potential readership of the literature of the Russian emigration. Thus a new mass readership came spontaneously into being, with an abundance of writers and works on which to feast. The diaspora contained representatives of the most diverse styles and trends: among the realists were Ivan Bunin, Aleksei Tolstoi, and Ivan Shmelev; the modernists included Andrei Belyi (temporarily) and Aleksei Remizov, and were later joined by Evgenii Zamiatin; the Symbolists were represented by Konstantin Bal'mont, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, Zinaida Hippius, and Viacheslav Ivanov the latter subsequently becoming head of the Vatican library in Rome; of the Acmeists there were Georgii Ivanov and Nikolai Otsup; the Futurist contingent comprised Igor' Severianin and

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