July 01, 2007

A New Art: Theater and the 18-hour Meal

In Russia, literature has always been the primary art form. Writers and poets were towering presences in Russian cultural life, furiously castigating social failings, singing the praise of heroes, and prophesying a bright future. In short, they shaped public opinion. 

But there was a period in the history of Russian culture when theater suddenly became no less important than literature, when new theatrical productions had just as much impact as the appearance of a new novel. It was a time when lines started forming in front of theaters in the evening for tickets that would not go on sale until morning, when students tended fires throughout the night, to keep warm as they discussed a production’s mise-en-scène and the actors’ performances. 

This transformation was due to a legendary meeting of two very remarkable individuals: Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, creators of the Moscow Art Theater (MKhT). By the time they met one another in the summer of 1897, both had been active in the theatrical world for many years, but their paths had never crossed. 

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The theater Stanislavsky and Nemirovsky-Danchenko founded is now known as MKhAT. This is the theater's website (in Russian).

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