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Microform Collection: The Meyerhold Theatre, 1920-1938

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Tanja Lorkovic
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From the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI)

The Meyerhold Theater collection offers a treasure trove of manuscripts and records from one of the most influential producers and directors of the 20th century. Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold is widely considered, along with Brecht and Stanislavsky, one of the founders and masters of contemporary theater.

Working with the Moscow Art Theater, Meyerhold experimented with his own directing ideas until the outbreak of the Revolution in 1917. As head of theatrical activities for the new regime, he directed the first theater to specialize in Soviet plays. He was among the earliest advocates of the theater of the absurd, and, in his avant-garde productions, he employed various grotesque elements, pantomimes and acrobats, emphasizing the visual, non-verbal aspects of the plays. He used bare constructivist settings and formalized scenery and directed his actors according to the principle of biomechanics, reducing the actor's individualism in the interests of the play as a whole.

At his own Meyerhold Theater, he staged such classics as Ostrovsky's The Forest (1924), Gogol's Inspector General (1926) and Griboedov's Woe to Wit (1928), and he produced the new work of Soviet playwrights, including Mayakovsky's.

Under Stalin, Meyerhold's star dimmed and was finally extinguished. An outspoken opponent of "Socialist Realism," Meyerhold and his theater were officially denounced as "formalistic," and his theater closed in 1938. A victim of the purges, he was arrested in 1939 and died shortly thereafter.

Featuring the full manuscripts and stage directions of Meyerhold, this landmark collection also contains valuable correspondence, notebooks, costume designs,
and ephemera. The collection is accompanied by a file/document level guide prepared by the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art.

In addition to providing a noteworthy new resource for Slavic and Russian studies, The Meyerhold Theater collection is vital to theater scholars, particularly those with a research interest in the artistic components of theater.

Yale owns all 165 microfilm reels of the collection. Scholars can consult these sources in the Microtext Reading Room, which is in the basement of Sterling Memorial Library. A 2-volume guide to the collection is in the Microtext Reading Room under the call number Z2519 +M49 1999;(LC).

Sterling Library's hours of operation
LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Film B18266