[Baku]: Zaktag, 1926. 50 pp.: ill. + 16 leaves of advertising. 21х23 cm. In original cardboards with constructivist design. Chipped, tears of the spine with some fragments lost, creases of covers, but clean and very good internally.
First and only edition. One of 2000 copies.
Extremely rare survival of the time connected with the experimental launch of Azerbaijan State Russian Drama Theater. Its history started in 1920 when Baku Free Satire Agitation Theater was founded on ruins of pre-revolutionary Balieff’s theater ‘La Chauve-Souris’. It was initiated by administrative director Vladimir Shveitser (known as The Pessimist), who later worked with Mezhrabpomfilm. In 1923, the theater was renamed into Baku Workers’ Theater.
Since 1924, BRT attracted new contributors and Jewish director Efraim Loiter (1889-1963) joined it. He was one of the organizers of the Jewish Theater Studio in the Kultur Lige (1919-1924) where he worked together with K. Marjanishvili. In Moscow theaters he collaborated with V. Meyerhold, E. Vakhtangov and A. Granowsky. Parallel in methods with them, he formed avant-garde Jewish theater. In 1924-1925, Loiter led Baku Work Theater and the Jewish Studio implementing his experimental ideas: the use of motion pictures in performing, illuminated advertisements, slogans, satirical interludes. His portrait and group pictures with other theater staff are in the book.
The edition introduces composers, artists, actors. Early artists E. Samorodovа, P. Uzunov, B. Voronov, A. Arapov were replaced by an artist Viacheslav Ivanov. For the second season (1924-1925) of BRT, he designed an innovative stage of five platforms and created constructivist decorations for each play, excluding one. Decorations of a play ‘Lake Lyul’ (1923) were designed by avant-garde artist Georgii Iakulov who worked in Moscow Kamerny Theater. Shveitser remembered that Iakulov had brought a project of 26 Commissars Memorial to Baku and waited for a response. At that time Shveitser asked him to create the stage design for the play and Iakulov drew it on a paper cigarette box. The next day Ivanov had got the sketch and said: “Everything is here. Everything: a spatial solution, a production style. I undertake to decrypt this hieroglyph into decorations for the play” - and he did it well. An author of the play ‘Lake Lyul’, Alexei Faiko wrote that success of BRT performance caused the jealous anger of Meyerhold who staged this play in Moscow. Even indirectly, Kamerny Theater continued to compete with Meyerhold Theater.
The design of this book, most likely, was created by Ivanov as well. It features photomontages, striking advertising posters, constructivist initials and tailpieces as well as numerous group photographs from tours to Tiflis, Tashkent, Samarkand and Batumi. Apart from general stagings at the theater, the troupe performed for workers of factories and oil fields and formed Practical Training Studio for students.
Finally, this theater was an early tribune for famous actress Faina Ranevskaya who performed at BRT until she was invited to Kamerny Theater in 1931.
Worldcat doesn’t track this edition.