The Moscow Art Theatre

The Moscow Art Theatre

The Moscow Art Theatre

The Moscow Art Theatre

Synopsis

Unprecedented in its comprehensiveness, The Moscow Art Theatre fills a large gap in our knowledge of Stanislavsky and his theatre. Worrall focuses in particular detail on four of The Moscow Art Theatre's best-known productions:* Tolstoy's Tsar Fedor Ioannovich * Gorky's The Lower Depths * Chekov's The Cherry Orchard * Turgenev's A Month in the Country

Excerpt

The Ermitazh Gardens on Carriage Row (Karyetnyy ryad) where the Hermitage Theatre stood are frequently confused with the Ermitazh Pleasure Gardens—a kind of Muscovite Tivoli Gardens managed by the impresario M.V. Lentovskiy, which boasted an open-air theatre. the former were opened in 1894 by the ubiquitous Ya.V. Shchukin, who owned the theatre which backed on to them facing Carriage Row, where the Miniature Theatre (Moskovskiy Teatr Miniatyur) stands today. the name of the theatre derived from its garden setting and meant, literally, ‘a recluse’s shelter’ or ‘hermitage’. At the time when the Art Theatre company moved in, it had been run more like a music-hall than a monastery. Stanislavsky’s reminiscences capture the atmosphere of a rather seedy venue:

The Ermitazh in Karyetnyy ryad was in a terrible state, dusty, uncomfortable, unheated, with the smell of beer and some sort of acid that had remained from the summer use of the building. There was a garden and the public was entertained with various divertissements in the open air, but in inclement weather the entertainment would be carried over into the theatre. the furnishings of the theatre had been intended for garden audiences and were tasteless. This could be seen in the choice of colours, in the cheap decorations, in the miserable attempt at luxury, in the posters hung on the walls, in the stage curtain with its advertisements, in the uniforms of the ushers, in the choice of food in the buffet and in the entire insulting character of the building and the disorder of the house.

We had to get rid of all this, but we had no money to create an interior that would be bearable for cultured people. We painted all the walls and the posters on them white. We

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