Moscow: Teakinopechat’, 1929. Item #1124
274 pp. 18x13 cm. In original constructivist wrappers. Fragments of spine lost, covers chipped, front cover with spine detached from the text block, back cover glued to text block by paper band. Otherwise very good and clean internally.
First and only edition. One of 5000 copies. Introduction by A. Lunacharsky.
The book was published soon after its author Alexander Kugel (1864-1928) had passed away. A theatrical critic, editor-in-chief of the magazine ‘Theater and Art’ (1897-1918) and founder of the cabaret ‘False Mirror’, he accompanied experimental Russian theater from the pre-revolutionary period to the 1920s. He had a lot to say about actors, directors, tendencies and changes in performing.
As he wrote, “The history of Russian theater had no peculiar figures comparing with V. Meyerhold. For 25 years, we have been talking about him incessantly: before the 1905 Revolution, after that, during World War I, after the overthrow of tsarism, under military communism and NEP”. Since the very first performances of Meyerhold as an actor, Kugel watched him and could characterize his activity and ideas.
The edition includes nine articles overviewing separate actors P. Orlenev, Iu. Iur’ev, V. Kachalov, N. Monakhov, A. Iuzhin, critics A. Urusov and A. Bazhenov, Jewish theater and the whole mass of A. Chekhov’s works, staged and might be performed. He presented an ‘old’ understanding Chekhov, while his commentator Isaak Turkel’taub (1890-shot in 1938) mentioned that socialist re-evaluation of Chekhov’s plays had already begun in the late 1920s and they were waiting for “the right social analyses of these works”.
Kugel called himself a «taster» of any national theater. Contrary to the admiration of Meyerhold and Chekhov, he criticized contemporary Jewish theater and A. Granovskii’s stagings, indicating a lack of national culture. Turkel’taub, who was a member of Jewish communist party in the 1910s, disagreed with Kugel’s text about GOSET most of all. He stressed that contemporary Jewish theater needed to be more relevant and more proletarian to build new culture. Thus, one book showed two almost opposite points of view on Soviet Jewish theater.
Worldcat shows copies located in LoC, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Illinois Universities, Yivo Institute, Hebrew Union and Amherst Colleges.