chapter  23
10 Pages

Erik XIV

Vakhtangov directed Strindberg’s Erik XIV at the First Studio of the MAT in 1921. In this production, Vakhtangov, for the fi rst time, introduced the new principles of expressivity to the First Studio troupe. The opposition of the ensemble was almost unanimous. The actors openly ridiculed the futuristic sets, costumes, and makeup, designed by Vakhtangov’s new collaborator-Ignaty Nivinsky. One of the actors, Boris Sushkevich, 1 for whom Nivinsky designed a green wig, exclaimed: “If during rehearsals, my hair will, at the very least, turn yellow, then all right, I will wear this wig. If not-never!” (Sushkevich 1959: 369). Michael Chekhov, who played the title role of Erik, was the only member of the First Studio to accept Vakhtangov’s new ideas from the start.