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(1) The adaptation of a literary work into dramatic form for the stage. Unlike the free use of epic motifs in classical drama or in Shakespeare’s plays, staging seeks not so much to create a new original work as to adapt prose to the theater.
The first important staging in Russia was done by A. A. Sha-khovskoi, who adapted the works of W. Scott and A. S. Pushkin for the stage. V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko rejected the stereotyped adaptation of novels into the “well-made plays” characteristic of the second half of the 19th century. He presented montages at the Moscow Art Theater in an attempt to re-create the novel as a dramatic form.
Many of the principles of staging—juxtaposition of contrasting episodes, looser and broader construction, and the use of many short scenes—influenced Soviet dramaturgy. Several of the early Soviet works to be adapted were staged by the authors themselves—for example, Virineia by L. N. Seifullina (with V. P. Pravdukhin, 1925), The Days of the Turbins by M. Bulgakov (1926), and Armored Train J4–69by V. V. Ivanov (1927). Staging documentary prose became popular in the 1950’s.
(2) The Russian word for staging, instsenirovka, is also the name for a form of mass agitational theater popular during the revolution. Performances were given in public squares to bring the audience and the actors together. Historical scenes were staged, and both historical and symbolic figures were put on trial (The Overthrow of the Autocracy, 1919). Instsenirovki were characterized by romantic symbolism, conventional characterization, and the juxtaposition of pathos and the grotesque.