Meyerhold and His Set Designers

Meyerhold and His Set Designers

Meyerhold and His Set Designers

Meyerhold and His Set Designers

Excerpt

Stanislavsky and Meyerhold, the two founding fathers of the modern Russian director's theater, stand initially in the relationship to each other of teacher and pupil. For upon graduating from the theater course of the Moscow Philharmonic Society under the tutelage of Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko Meyerhold was chosen along with Olga Knipper to join the new company founded that year (1898) by Stanislavsky and Nemirovich, namely the Moscow Art Theater. Meyerhold participated therefore in the Art Theater's early striving for authenticity in its re-creation of outer reality on the three-wall box stage. The Theater strove to reproduce reality in historical drama. Thus Meyerhold played the title role in Alexei Tolstoy The Death of Ivan the Terrible among the eighteen parts he took in the Theater's first four years of existence. And the Theater aimed at the same true picture in contemporary drama. So Meyerhold created the role of Treplev in Chekhov The Sea Gull, which provided the Theater with both the archetype of itself and its emblem. The Theater's concern for outer reality led to collecting genuine objects and textiles for historical plays and to imitating quirks and gestures of real people in contemporary drama. However, Stanislavsky's method for achieving inner psychological realism had yet to be developed. After serving an actor's apprenticeship, so to speak, under two such masters, Meyerhold set out to direct on his own, but very much still under the aegis of the Art Theater and its then avant-garde realism.

Dramatic literature at the turn of the century did not take the single course of realism though. Even the great realistic works . . .

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