Edward Braun: Meyerhold: A Revolution in Theatre (1979/1995)

2 December 2014, dusan

“Legendary Russian theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940) led the revolt against naturalism and flouted Stalinist socialist realism with his avant-garde productions incorporating mime, constructivist sets, musical scores and formalized scenery. His scenic invention and use of cinematic techniques culminated in his 1926 staging of Gogol’s The Government Inspector as well as reinterpretations of classics such as Pushkin’s Queen of Spades. Braun, a drama professor in England, sees Meyerhold as a supreme director-poet for whom the theater was designed to shatter the audience’s complacency. Decked out with 145 photographs of set reproductions, costumes and posters, Braun’s vibrant study restores Meyerhold’s radical legacy for contemporary theater. This revision of a work first published in 1979 draws on a wealth of newly discovered writings by Meyerhold, as well as KGB files released since 1989 that tell the full story of the director’s arrest, torture and execution after being falsely labeled a foreign agent by Stalin.” (Source)

Originally published in 1979
Second, revised and expanded, edition
Publisher Methuen Drama, 1995
ISBN 0413727300
347 pages

Reviews: Sharon Marie Carnicke (Modern Drama, 1996), Christine Kiebuzinska (Theatre Journal, 1996), Phil Shannon (Green Left Weekly, 1999).

PDF (33 MB)

Julia Vaingurt: Wonderlands of the Avant-Garde: Technology and the Arts in Russia of the 1920s (2013)

7 July 2014, dusan

“In postrevolutionary Russia, as the Soviet government was initiating a program of rapid industrialization, avant-garde artists declared their intent to serve the nascent state and to transform life in accordance with their aesthetic designs. In spite of their professed utilitarianism, however, most avant-gardists created works that can hardly be regarded as practical instruments of societal transformation. Exploring this paradox, Vaingurt claims that the artists’ investment of technology with aesthetics prevented their creations from being fully conscripted into the arsenal of political hegemony. The purposes of avant-garde technologies, she contends, are contemplative rather than constructive. Looking at Meyerhold’s theater, Tatlin’s and Khlebnikov’s architectural designs, Mayakovsky’s writings, and other works from the period, Vaingurt offers an innovative reading of an exceptionally complex moment in the formation of Soviet culture.”

Publisher Northwestern University Press, 2013
SRLT series
ISBN 0810128942, 9780810128941
322 pages
via Sorin

Review: Boris Dralyuk (NEP, 2013), Tim Harte (Slavic Review, 2014).



See also the science-fiction film Aelita, Queen of Mars, dir. Yakov Protazanov, 1924, 111 min, based on Tolstoy’s novel.