[A PLAY ABOUT THE ADVENTURES OF CHELYUSKINTSY WRITTEN BY THE MEMBER OF THE EXPEDITION] Ne sdadimsya: Narodno-geroich. predstavleniye v 4 d. i 66 kart [i.e. We will not Surrender: Folk Heroic Performance in 4 Acts and 66 Episodes]
Leningrad: Bol’shoy dramatich. teatr im. M. Gor’kogo, 1935. Item #1157
40 pp., 1 ill.: ill. 20x15 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Very good, small tears of the spine and covers.
Very rare. First edition. One of 3,250 copies. With 14 illustrations (1 color).
An interesting work dedicated to the production of the play about the heroic adventures of Chelyuskintsy.
On August 2, 1933, the Soviet steamship Chelyuskin left Murmansk with the task to determine the possibility to travel by non-icebreaker through the Northern Maritime Route in a single navigation season. While Chelyuskin managed to get through most of the Northern Route by September, it was soon caught in the ice fields and sank near Kolyuchin Island on February 13, 1934. The crew, which consisted of 111 members, managed to escape onto the ice and built a makeshift airstrip using only a few spades, ice shovels, and two crowbars. Two months later, a government commission headed by the prominent Soviet economic official Valerian Kuybyshev (1868-1935) organized rescue operations, as a result of which all participants of the expedition were saved.
The adventures of Chelyuskintsy were perceived by the Soviet government as the embodiment of the heroic socialist spirit. The portrayal of the expedition became a common theme in almost all spheres of Soviet art: literature (Pokhod Chelyuskina: geroicheskaya epopeya [i.e. Expedition Chelyuskin: Heroic Epic] written by the members of the crew in 1934), cinema (Chelyuskin. Geroi Arktiki [i.e. Chelyuskin. Heroes of the Arctic] by Yakov Poselskiy in 1934), etc. Yet, the expedition secretary Sergei Semynov (1893-1942) is likely to be the only member of the crew who recorded his thoughts during the expedition and later transformed them into a play.
The book opens with an introductory letter from the head of the expedition, Otto Yulievich Schmidt (1891–1956), and is followed by a brief account of the journey by the noted proletarian writer and the author of the play Sergei Semyonov. Semyonov, who started working on the text from the first days of the expedition, finished the play in 1934, a year before it was presented on the stage of the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Drama Theatre. Ne sdadimsya [i.e. We will not Surrender], a play in 4 acts and 66 episodes, was directed by the Soviet actor and director Vasily Fedorov (1891-1971) and designed by the constructivist theatre artist Vadim Ryndin (1902-1974). Among the participants of the play were some of the most famous actors of the time: Nikolay Monakhov (1875-1936), Nikolay Dmitriev (1898-1971), Sergey Ryabinkin, etc. In the book, Fedorov and Monakhov reminisce about lesser-known details from the production of We will not Surrender and offer a vivid insight into the play. The edition also includes a list of dramatis personae and an article concentrating on the activities undertaken to deepen cooperation between the theatre administration and the team of actors and directors (the exhibition dedicated to the expedition and organized by the Bolshoi Theatre and museum of Arctic, etc.). The book features 8 black and white photographs showing the meeting of the administration of BDT (Bolshoi Drama Theatre) and the expedition crew, the author of the play, set designer, director, and actors A. Nikritina, A. Pano, S. Ryabinkin, as well as 6 remarkable illustrations (1 color) of constructivist stage design by Ryndin.
In November 1935, the play, which became the last work of its author, was performed on the stage of the Kamerny Theatre (Moscow) under the directorship of one of the leading innovators of theatrical art, Alexander Tairov (1885-1950). In spite of the remarkable set design by the Soviet avant-garde artist Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953) and music by the Soviet composer Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1963), the play failed to impress the critics and didn’t enter the theatre’s repertoire.
Overall, an important document of the time.
Worldcat shows 1 copy of the edition at Harvard University.