Komissarzhevskaia's Theater

Komissarzhevskaia’s Theater

 

a Russian theater founded in 1904 in St. Petersburg by V. F. Komissarzhevskaia. Between 1904 and 1906, at the height of the social upsurge associated with the Revolution of 1905–07, the theater’s basic repertoire consisted of plays by M. Gorky, A. P. Chekhov, and H. Ibsen, as well as works by Russian playwrights associated with the Znanie publishing house (for example, S. A. Naidenov and E. I. Chirikov). The theater’s productions of Gorky’s Summer People (first staged 1904) and Children of the Sun (1905) were social and political events. Its presentations of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Chekhov’s The Seagull, and Naidenov’s Avdotia’s Life won wide recognition.

Among the actors who worked at Komissarzhevskaia’s Theater were K. V. Bravich, E. P. Korchagina-Aleksandrovskaia, P. V. Samoilov, I. A. Slonov, V. R. Gardin, and I. M. Uralov. A number of outstanding directors worked there, including N. A. Popov, A. P. Petrovskii, N. N. Arbatov, and I. A. Tikhomirov.

In October 1905, the theater presented several plays for the benefit of the striking workers. It called off its presentations for October 13–14 and joined the general strike. Attracted to the ideas of the symbolist theater, Komissarzhevskaia’s Theater invited V. E. Meyerhold to be its chief director. He staged a number of productions, including Maeterlinck’s Sister Beatrice, Blok’s Balaganchik, and Andreev’s The Life of Man. Meyer-hold’s total domination of the actors led Komissarzhevskaia to break with him. In 1908 she went on tour with part of the troupe. After her death in 1910 the troupe was dissolved.

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