10

FOURTH SEASON: 1901-1902

The critical reception of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, directed by Stanislavsky and Sanin, premièred on 19 September 1901, was harsh. Even an enthusiastic supporter like Nikolay Efros thought the Theatre was ‘chasing after chimeras’ in a ‘mist of hidden symbols’ (Novosti dnya 1901:26 September). Petr Yartsev, on the other hand, was critical of its chimerical blank spots. 1 The production had been unfaithful to the play; it was ‘coldly deterministic’ and weighed down with a superabundance of external detail and, consequently, ignored the ‘highest notion’ of the work. Its ‘soul’ had been killed off through the clarity of the realism. The audience was bored or, worse still, ‘left without waiting for the last act’ (Teatr i iskusstvo 1901: no. 40:712-13). Chekhov attended a rehearsal on 14 May and was also at the première. He described it as ‘pale, uninteresting and weak’ (Chekhov 1974-83: vol. 19:139). Thus can a poor production by a first-rate company mar the reputation of a great play.

The production of Hauptmann’s Michael Kramer, premièred on 27 October, continued to explore the theme of the failed artist and the conflict between aspiration towards the creative heights and the countervailing pull of the banal, the habitual and the sensual. The hero, a teacher of painting whose talents have never attained their hoped-for ends, dreams of inspiring his son, Arnold, to become the artist he himself would have wished to be. However, being weak and spiritually ineffectual, as well as physically deformed, Arnold is incapable of scaling the heights. He gets involved with a worthless woman and ends his miserable life by committing suicide. The production was, once again, built on a series of contrasts—between the grotesque, animal-like Arnold and the world of a low-life tavern, set against the monkish cloister of the higher spirit, represented by

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The Moscow Art Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • A Note on Transliteration and Names x
  • Part I - The Establishment of the Moscow Art Theatre 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Historical Background 13
  • 2 - The Society of Art and Literature 24
  • 3 - The Creation of a New Theatre 32
  • 4 - The Hermitage Theatre on Carriage Row 49
  • 5 - Actors, Salaries, Conditions of Service 58
  • 6 - Savva Morozov and the Lianozov Theatre 68
  • Part II - The Moscow Art Theatre Repertoire 1898-1917 83
  • 7 - First Season: 1898-1899 85
  • 8 - Second Season: 1899-1900 112
  • 9 - Third Season: 1900-1901 121
  • 10 - Fourth Season: 1901-1902 128
  • 11 - Fifth Season: 1902-1903 132
  • 12 - Sixth Season: 1903-1904 152
  • 13 - Season Seven to Season Ten: 1904-1908 165
  • 14 - Seasons Eleven and Twelve: 1908-1909 178
  • 15 - Season Twelve to Season Twenty: 1909-1917 199
  • 16 - Conclusion 204
  • Notes 209
  • Bibliography 226
  • Index 232
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