Item #418 [CABARET THEATRE ‘FALSE MIRROR’] The archive of ‘Krivoe zerkalo’ [i.e. The False Mirror]

[CABARET THEATRE ‘FALSE MIRROR’] The archive of ‘Krivoe zerkalo’ [i.e. The False Mirror]

Item #418

[Leningrad, 1920s]. 46 items. Archive consists of 3 photos of the actors (signed), 3 posters on the performances of the theatre, 2 programs, the folder with numerous newspaper clippings with the articles on the theatre, 6 typescripts of the plays that passed censors in different republics of the Union (it was done for the tours, every area required a new censor’s stamp), drawings of scenery and props with explanation text, the list of the troupe members and theatre’s staff, the hand-written repertoire of the theatre, the handwritten list of things to do by Kulekov, where he mentions ‘the necessity of creating the completely new artistic method’ and ‘transforming the repertoire towards education of the workers’ etc.; the folder with theatre’s documentation, notes from Kulikov to the
actors, screenplays, protocols, speeches etc. including the part of the screenplay for ‘Battleship Potyomkin’, adapted for stage by Trakhtenberg that was never staged.

‘Krivoe zerkalo’ was a well-known cabaret theatre that existed in St. Petersburg and Leningrad in 1908-1931. Originally the idea to create ‘the theatre of the parody’ came to editor-in-chief of the magazine ‘Teatr i iskusstvo’ [i.e. Theatre and Art] Alexander Kugel (1864-1928), his wife actress Zinaida Kholmskaya (1866-1936), one of the most popular satirist writers of the day Teffi and others. At the same time the similar idea occurred to V. Meyerhold and as a result two theatres were open under one roof - ‘Krivoe zerkalo’ by Kugel and ‘Lukomorie’ by Meyerhold. However soon ‘Lukomorie’ closed down and ‘The Mirror’ became one of the few cabaret theatres in St. Petersburg. The performances have started at midnight, and the concept was to include the actors from other theatres to participate in performances after their usual shifts. In 1910-1917 one of the brightest experimentations of Russian avant-garde theatre Nikolay Evreinov became the main director of ‘Krivoe zerkalo’, the theatre adopted more serious tone, the troupe became more stable.

The theatre was temporarily shut down during the Civil War and was reopened by Kugel in 1922. In 1920s Kugel tried to remain in the tradition set by the theatre pre-1917: it was a satirical theatre, repertoire included parodies, Kugel also restored Evreinov’s old productions. Theatre didn’t gain back its popularity, because in 1920s Soviet Russia the new standards of Satire and Humor started to show, reflected more by Moscow Theatre of Satire and alike. Our archive covers the last period of the existence of the theatre - second half of 1920s, till 1931. In 1928 Kugel has passed away, and a member of magazine ‘Rabochy i teatr’ Valentin Kulekov became the new director.

Full description of the content available upon request.


See all items in Archive, Theatre