The Acting Camp

On February 25, 1917, when Meyerhold left the Aleksandrinsky theater after the success of Maskarad , a conception of the world based on despotism and arbitrariness was about to die and another was born full of hope. The historical chopping board of what is known as the February Revolution, a prelude to what will be the October Revolution, was going to open unsuspected horizons for artistic creation. A few weeks later, on April 14, Meyerhold wrote:

Citizen Meyerhold links the revolution in the theater and the revolution in the street on the same date. In 1905, when the popular commotion matured in the streets of Moscow, the Moscow Studio was preparing for the performance of The Death of Tintagiles , where the figure of the queen appeared invisible but fearsome. A sinister feeling brought out this image, of breath of the dead, with which everything alive on the scene trembled.

The revolution in the street was crushed, but the theater continued its revolutionary role. Then, as if they were taking the roles from each other – continues Citizen Meyerhold – the actors became conservative. The actors forgot the repertoire of Blok, Sologub, Mayakovsky, Remizob. Who is to blame for this? The silent and impossible stalls, as a place to rest.

Citizen Meyerhold is greatly surprised that the soldiers go to the theater, and without saying a word they release him from the audience.

… It is already well in the audience! They drive the intelligentsia out of there, where Ostrovski’s epigones flourish. But the pieces that were mentioned above will be put on by the actors for the peasants, soldiers, workers and that intelligentsia that says: “Enough of sleep.”

The revolution of 1917 radically changed the whole life of Russia and, consequently, began a time of transformations in the development of the country’s culture. It was a leap in the history of humanity, but in collective action the individual problem of each of those who consciously or unconsciously participated in its development was partially defined. The revolution is not a fatum that conditions men, it is they who, faced, determine it, produce, develop, control, direct and make it succeed or fail.

In the field of culture and theater, there were many who stood in front, others who doubted what to do and a few who supported the revolution immediately because they came from the old battles of yesteryear, those who had brought thanks to their tenacity and generous boost the present. Eminent symbolists like Blok, Briusov, Bely, Chulkóv and Zelinski, supported the Revolution in theatrical sections or in literary conferences.

In the early days there was the abolition of censorship and the reorganization of imperial theaters, but progress was slow. The gigantic territorial proportions of the country made the processes go slowly. To this must be added that the civil war and foreign intervention that lasted from 1918 to 1920 caused countless difficulties, from lack of fuel and electricity to the closure of many theaters.

However, the most eminent stage directors of the last tsarist period, Stanislavski, Meyerhold, Tairov, Komisarzhevski and Evreinov, congratulated themselves on his fall. Even the latter, a keen symbolist, organized a gigantic mass spectacle entitled The Taking of the Winter Palace . It was on November 7, 1920. It was held in Petrograd, in the great Palace square, with the intervention of eight thousand performers and an orchestra of five hundred musicians. One hundred thousand spectators attended and there was no lack of the Aurora’s cannon shot or the fireworks that celebrated the October victory. Following this trend of the “Living Panoramas”, such as The Blocking of Russia or Forward, Communism of the World , both by Radlov, this fashion spread to the most remote corners of the country. However, Evreinoff left for Berlin two years later and never returned. In 1922, Stanislavski left for the United States for a tour with the Art Theater and returned two years later. There were undoubtedly differences between them.