Exactly 100 years ago, there occurred what still argue and can’t come to the same conclusion: what did the Russian October revolution? What would happen to the country if the Bolsheviks had not seized power? Facts, documents, interpretations, comments — all this only multiplies the issues.
And what is the role of the October revolution/coup in the fate of the Russian theater? What happened to him in those rebellious terrible days and how it really is theatrical figures met the revolution? What do you think of her modern artists?
“To put a bomb under a Large theater and blow it up”
Revolution and this theme did not begin in October 17 th year, and in February. In the night from 25 to 26 February, the audience emerged from the Alexandrinsky theatre after “Masquerade” staged by Vsevolod Meyerhold, he had reached home the back roads and dark alleys. Because through the main streets whistling bullets, raced trucks with armed soldiers. Who wants to catch a bullet-the silly woman!
So dramatic were the events of February hundred years ago, which was met in different ways. For example, most of the actors of Imperial theatres (and them in Russia was five: Big and Small — in Moscow, the Alexandrinsky, Mariinsky, Mikhailovsky — in Petrograd) is clearly not pleased: the revolutionary events broke their peaceful and affluent life. But the traders, in contrast, got very excited: I hoped to get rid of the problems with censorship, prohibitions play a Great post and the status of second-class theaters. Innovators from the theatre of Meyerhold, Tairov, Sorry met the revolution with faith and joy, not knowing what the captivity of illusions they were.
Here is a quote by Alexander Tairov, refined by the artist: “Past we raced the engines, walked past the troops, smuggled guns… and we stood on the sidewalk, below, for the purpose, the audience of the incomprehensible Mystery that is happening before our eyes!” Fyodor Komissarzhevsky (brother of the legendary Russian actress) called state theatres reactionary, conservative and even offered to put a bomb under a Large theater and blow it up. The theatres, the performances, something unimaginable happened: in the interval directly from the places of revolutionary leaders pushed speech, which ended with a collective performance of “the Marseillaise”. What it was: the long awaited moment of freedom, mass insanity, or…
But I must say that in 8 months which separated the February revolution from October (after eight decades still called revolution), the Russian theatre has undergone substantial changes. He was freed from censorship and police surveillance, prohibitions of the Church; finally, the light rail saw forbidden the play “Paul I” by Merezhkovsky, “the Death of Ivan the terrible” Tolstoy, “Black crows” Protopopov… Became possible to play in the days of lent and some Orthodox holidays, and, importantly, in productions touch on religious issues. And yet — displayed on the stage as actors, the clergy with not only bright but also dark sides. In addition, the theatre received the freedom of Assembly, speech and even the right propaganda from the scene of various political, religious and philosophical views. There is a “Temporary provision on the state theatres” (may 17-th year), based on the Charter of the “comédie française”, who worked as a stand-alone acting partnership with a government Directorate, which had a controlling function. Finally, the abolition of privileged position of the Imperial theatres: Imperial Big already renamed the State Big.
However, freedom of Assembly, especially the acting, is always a hostage to violent emotions and passions, has not done without excesses. So, in Petrograd, it is proposed to close the Mikhailovsky theatre as “the court”, and even with the French troupe. At the mother see of the Charter of the Union of Moscow artists (written, incidentally, Tairov), in fact, pits actors, equated with the proletariat, entrepreneurs, equivalent to the capitalists, and against their Union, as follows from the same Statute, “takes the path of organized struggle on the General principles of the struggle of the working masses…” At the Mariinsky theater Opera don’t accept your Union ballet only on the grounds that the Opera can perfectly do without ballet. What outraged the dancers objected, saying that most operas their success to ballet, such as “Prince Igor,” with its Polovtsian dances.
Seemed to welcome the change came, however, after 8 months, it became clear that this is not the democracy which was the dream theatre.
“We lost to Russia for a ticket to the theater gallery…”
And here’s the October revolution in Petrograd. How I met revolution/revolution-1917 Russian theatres? In the early days, when nobody knew that the Bolsheviks uninvited will be hunger and poverty, Alexandrinsky theatre with the choir, ballet and orchestra has taken a strong stand against the new government announced a strike. Just 3 days later, i.e. on 27 October, the Commissioner for all public and private theatres Ants had issued a circular letter. In this formidable call for actors to “stay in their seats… that sort of evasion from execution of their duties will be considered opposition to the new authorities and will incur the deserved punishment”. Similar tones figures of the Russian theatre is still not met.
The situation grew tense. All relied on the Constituent Assembly (appointed first in September, then in November), which could only be a peaceful way out of the impasse of anarchy. In any case, the mayor of Petrograd, Shrider turned to the theater world with an appeal to support the idea of convening a Constituent Assembly. The audience unanimously responded, in Michael’s set and in the presence of the Bolsheviks even played “the Apotheosis of the Constituent Assembly”. In the actors paraded in costumes of the peoples inhabiting Russia, to the scenery, the wall, and the Golden domes of the Kremlin. And “La Marseillaise” proclaimed the health in honor of “the only legitimate owner of the Russian land — the Constituent Assembly”.
Theatres of Moscow and St. Petersburg reacted differently to the power of the Bolsheviks. If 5 November at the Mariinsky at the General meeting of Petrograd artists of all theaters in protest against the attack by the Bolsheviks historic buildings of Moscow decided to continue the strike (in the resolution: “Crumbling ancient shrines of art of the Russian people. In a mad dazzle brother went to his brother. The Kremlin and the assumption Cathedral were fired cannonballs… the Church of St. Basil burned…”), then in Moscow on November 21, a meeting of collective of the Bolshoi theatre decided to open its first season after the October revolution — in the evening gave “Aida” by Verdi.
Split and the master culture. Thus, in the same historic meeting in the Mariinsky theatre Meyerhold proposed to invite Lunacharsky that he explained the policy of the Soviet power in the theatrical business, and then asked the actors to “renounce the old Russia in the name of art around the globe”. Present answered the reformer of Russian theatre whistling and hooting.
The constituent Assembly was convened in late November the 17th, but dispersed, and illusions are no more. In November, all the theatres were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Commissariat of education, and in December received a letter signed by Lunacharsky calls to cooperate with the new government. But without hearing from theatres joyful consent (Mariinsky theatre announced that its location away from the political struggle, the Alexandrinsky in the Declaration categorically distanced themselves from the representatives of the Soviet government), Lunacharsky in January of the 18th year gives the superintendent of state theatres Batyushkovu order: “I Give you a period of 24 hours; if you do not send during this time a definitive statement that obey my order, hand over the post that you refuse to further the intrigue… I appeal to the military investigation Commission with a request to immediately arrest you.” Went threat and rebellious Alexandrinka — way former anarchist Bakalov.
At the Mariinsky, he arrested the leader of the opposition — conductor siloti, dismisses the whole choir. Eyewitnesses recall: “All the entrances were locked and the main entrance set guardian. In the office Batiushkov executed a search and seizure of official papers, and then convened all the employees of the Directorate who Bakalov briefly announced that from today they are laid off, must immediately clear the room, and tomorrow this will not be tolerated”.
In General, all the democratic freedoms promised by the Bolsheviks, as it was quickly replaced by unity of command. So started working the main principle of Bolshevism: “no man — no problem”.
In February of the 18th year, a Management staff of the state theatres, and the head of it was the I. V. Accusonic, fortunately not random in the theater of man: educated, in 1904-1905-m headed the Opera company in Poltava. Critic Alexander Kugel wrote then: “Happened what had to happen — the Bolshevik government won a brilliant victory over the state theatres”.
What could I do? Of the actors, mostly outstanding (Karsavina, Roshchin-Insarov, Cherkasy, Sedov and others) chose to emigrate. Others even tried to resist, their struggle and support the theatrical print, which appears bold statements such as: “Private theatre will survive the government of Lenin and Lunacharsky”. Alas, they remained on paper. “Got game… We lost to Russia for a ticket to the theater gallery…” — wrote in Dec 17, the year Alexander Kugel, who later also emigrated.
There was another form of theatrical protest — inner emigration, and wrote an eyewitness and participant of those events, “works of drama was seen as a sacred limits of the temple, where you can escape from persecution and coercion to lie and prevaricate where it was impossible to be caught… under the protection of the Shrine”. This form of escape from Bolshevism occurs in the first years of Soviet power.
Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks and the Soviet government should say thank you that they are using Russian theatre as the trump card in their propaganda (what else could they present to the world — hungry peasants with a ruined economy?), began to Finance not only five ex-Imperial, but other theaters and teariki who were born and multiplied on the revolutionary wave. In fact, Russian repertory theatre nourished by Bolshevik money.
“Either would have been shot as he has no idea or he would have shot as Mayakovsky”
Passed 100 years since those fateful days. Today we look at the October revolution of modern artists? We asked them two questions:
— What is more (pluses or minuses and what) brought to the Russian theater of the October revolution?
If the power of imagination to travel back in 1917, what position in relation to the revolution, you, as a citizen and artist. How you see yourself in that time?
Mark ZAKHAROV, artistic Director of theatre “Lenkom”:
— The revolution of 1917 the Russian stage filled the stage with a barrage of endless primitive propaganda teams. However, intellectual creative fields appeared thirst for a serious upgrade and development. The inertia of the Silver age gave us the Director’s masterpiece: V. E. Meyerhold, A. Mardanov, A. Tairov, D. Shostakovich, who started to compose music in the theater, Prokofiev and others. The revolution at an early stage stimulated Stanislavsky and his Moscow art theatre, which kindled such scenic masterpieces like “Days of Turbin” Bulgakov. However, the heir of the Jacobin terror Ulyanov (Lenin), scorning “landed art”, ballet, proclaimed the main task is to A. V. Lunacharsky in education — “driven into the coffin of the” all Russian, “non-proletarian” theater classics. This trend won and along with the socialist realism caused a subsequent painful degradation of the Russian theatre.
Probably, in obedience to the post-revolutionary moods in the environment of short-sighted artists, I would try to be in tune with revolutionary sentiment, “the Whole world of violence we razed to the ground, and then…” my blood is RH negative, and I wouldn’t be able to sit idle. I believe that the fascination with the cases in which I would have rushed headlong at best would lead me in the number of immigrants, and about what would happen in the worst case, even do not want to think. Although easy to guess.
Boris JUHANANOV, artistic Director of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre:
Revolution hate! Not good, she never brought and can bring. Only bad. Even those who do it. Russian theater manages to survive in the toughest conditions. Revolution is flattening of the meanings and energies; about inspiration, exaltation, then terrible disappointment, leading to death and numbness. It is the destruction of a huge number of amazingly gifted people. Such a severe test as the revolution brings the theater even stagnation. So — God forbid!
To serve the revolution would not be — that’s for sure. Would secret ways of teleportation, the well-known theater Directors. The ones that can be used only once.
Dmitry Bertman, the artistic Director of “Helikon-Opera”:
— Any revolution brings death, disease, famine — is the one negative that can’t win the one plus, which is delivered from the incredible development of art. It was developed, saving the country, and encouraging morality and humanism.
I would have been there, where were my close friends. Because I chose them, and they me…
Sergey BEZRUKOV, actor, artistic Director of the Moscow Provincial theatre:
In my opinion, there can be pros at the event, which has brought so much blood and death in the Civil war — as with the red and white side! Even cons to call it blasphemous. Revolution is sure to be through the blood, and as a consequence — brother against brother! This is a tragic part of our history.
I’m from hereditary peasants who surely would fight white, then succumbing to the propaganda of the Reds, who promised the land would have passed to their side, would be deceived and would have tasted the horror of the requisitioning and collectivization. Would have been among those who raised the Antonov rebellion, brutally suppressed by the troops of Tukhachevsky!
Evgeny PISAREV, artistic Director of the Theater. A. S. Pushkin:
It’s difficult to talk about the pros and cons. After all, everything has two sides. On the one hand, the revolution has strengthened repertory theatre, has any government funding. On the other — have any ideological pressure, censorship. Although censorship had its advantages, I guess: restrictions forced to seek new artistic language.
About myself — I think I wouldn’t have a way out. If you remember Stanislavsky, Vakhtangov, Meyerhold, Tairov… they all took a revolution, no one left. Although socially, and creatively it was the opposite people. It is possible to write in the Baden, Paris or Berlin. And the place there is no one and, most importantly, not for anyone…
Nikolai KOLYADA, a playwright, artistic Director of “Kolyada-Theatre”:
— I have noticed, riding in different countries, that the poorer the country, the worse people live (and such countries, unfortunately, there’s a lot), the better in these countries, theatre, actors, Directors. Maybe because the theatre always attempts to look for happiness, something beautiful, fabulous; people like and want in the theater to escape from reality, and artists instinctively understand this and create on the stage of the beautiful, haunted world.
After the 17th year, when the country fell into darkness, the mud and the horror, unthinkable way suddenly blossomed Russian theatre. Started some incredible quest there was something Grand, and you name it: Meyerhold, Tairov, Mikhail Chekhov, Vakhtangov, was born the great system of Stanislavsky and forth. That is, if, after the revolution, there was all that, and today nourishes the entire theatrical world of mankind. Why it happened — I don’t know. Although all understandable: create — a hungry, well-fed — destroy.
Another thing: I’d like to live in such a time — at that time? No. A revolution broke the backbone of Russia. I know how to live my grandparents, my mom and dad. All life is in the dirt, the shit, work the flour, lack of money, suffering… All these years after the great October people kneaded and kneaded the dirt with his feet. Thanks to the Bolsheviks!
What I myself see in that time? Yes, I would be shot on the first day of the revolution! Because I don’t agree all the time, “climb out of the trench”…
Mikhail SHVYDKOI, the artistic Director of musical Theatre:
— This question cannot be a definite answer. The social revolution was connected with the revolution in the arts, including theatre, which opened new horizons of creativity. This artistic explosion was covered by the theatre life throughout the twentieth century. And not only in Russia. Left, the theatre has retained its fascination to this day. Strict censorship of the Soviet years has provoked creative pursuits — although without it, I’m sure the Russian theater would have achieved even greater success. As if fate of the Russian theater without revolutionary changes, hard to say. Most likely, the repertory theatre would not have assumed such an important place which he occupied in the Soviet Union and what is today.
I only know that I would not have left Russia, and it does not exclude that would join the Bolsheviks. The great utopia of building a Paradise on earth — even at the cost of suffering attracted many people…
Joseph RAIHELGAUZ, artistic Director of the theater “School of modern drama”:
I call it a revolution, the results of which are very negative: the result of the 1917 revolution — 70 years of stagnation. Terror, Leninism, Stalinism, country, closed from the world for decades… But the revolution itself is positive. The revolution of 1917 — as well as democratic change of the 90s — gave a powerful impetus to the development of social thought, literature, culture. But then pretty soon the revolution began to devour its children. First change took Blok, Mayakovsky, Meyerhold, Chagall, Mikhail Chekhov, and many other cultural figures. But already in 20-e years, some have come to their senses and began to stay in the West, giving the world invented in Russia technology — artistic and scientific.
Of course, a talent I don’t Meyerhold and Mayakovsky not. But I think that would have taken the same position that they would take a revolution warmly and enthusiastically, would expect quick results and be optimistic in the future… But just as quickly disappointed. And either would be shot, as he has no idea or he would have shot as Mayakovsky. Apparently, this is the fate of all revolutions: encouraging liberal reforms of the 90s taxied to the restoration of the Soviet mentality, and independence, which was positioned as the “revolution of dignity”, have sunk to the acceptance of absurd laws that degrade civilized man.
And yet the revolution is for me. Because it’s always the hope for a rapid change for the better. And if again there will be a revolution — I’ll hope…
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