Three fine programs of Meyerhold Theater displaying the last period of its activity. Strongly opposed to socialist realism, Meyerhold’s experimental performances were alien to the Soviet state’s demands but lasted even after the party clamped down on all avant-garde art. Despite the time being already retaliatory towards the avant-garde, the programs were designed by different artists in constructivist style.
Collected brochures also show that the theater had a flexible team where contributors changed positions depending on performance. Each staging attracted lots of people to the scene and behind it. For example, for one of these plays, a complicated construction of stage design was brought to life by 18 workers (listed in program).
Designs of two first programs (and probably the third one as well) were produced by German architect and designer Hans Leistikow (1892-1962), invited to the USSR together with architect E. May in 1930. Among his Soviet activities was collaboration with Meyerhold in 1933-1937, for whom the artist created costumes, decorations and posters until he left country during the Great Purge.
Overall, extremely rare and valuable editions.
1. Poslednii reshitel’nyi. Moscow. 7 fevralia 1931 g [i.e. The Last Resolute. Moscow. February 7, 1931] / V. Vishnevskii, V. Meyerhold. Moscow, 1931. 14 pp. 21,5x15 cm. In original constructivist wrappers. Mint.
Premier program of a play, embodying Meyerhold’s sight on the contemporary theater and pitting it against the old one. The work was commissioned by Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet but it was rejected and offered to Meyerhold. On the contrary, he agreed immediately. Meyerhold changed the text after censor accepted it and interesting that the script passed censorship again after the premier.
2. Dama s kameliiami [i.e. The Lady of the Camellias]. Moscow, . 8-leaf brochure with step cut indexing. 11x15 cm. In original printed wrappers. Very good.
One of 1000 copies. Play praising Zinaida Reich main actress and wife of Vsevolod Meyerhold. The director added six characters to plot and, suddenly for his approach of those period, put an abundance of things on the stage. The artist Leistikow designed it in the impressionist style, with an antique furniture set. That was a breath of pre-revolutionary bogema in Stalinist era. Although Meyerhold was criticized for admiration of bourgeois values, the play was crowned with success and lasted until the theater was closed in 1938.
3. Les. Komediia A.N. Ostrovskogo [i.e. Forest. Comedy by A. Ostrovsky]. Moscow, 1934. Leaf folded in half. 23,5x17,5 cm. Very good. Mounted typewritten line of music accompaniment.
Design showing contrasting Roman numeral X above an image of recognizable decoration-bridge that served as an upper platform.
“This was an exceptional performance staged by Meyerhold, evaluating its artistic value and innovative pathos. Public hadn’t seen more democratic thing than Meyerhold’s ‘Forest’”, - wrote well-known critic B. Alpers.
The program was printed for the 10th anniversary of the play was transformed and staged by Meyerhold. He considered Ostrovsky’s work as a material that might to be altered. He recombined five acts to 33 episodes straightening dynamics of the work. All the worthy theatrical ideas of the previous 15 years were implemented in the ‘Forest’ producing grotesque and a riot of colors. Spectators were delighted and the performance got a tremendous success.
Worldcat locates the only copy ‘The Lady with the Camellias’ in Northwestern Univ.