chapter  1
18 Pages

THE APOGEE OF THE ACTRESS: Rhetoric or reality

The period between 1870 and 1910, when starring actresses dominated the Russian stage in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the provinces, is less familiar, but equally intriguing. This period, which does not correspond precisely to existing chronologies of Russian theatre, art, and literature, includes, but is not limited to the Silver Age. Described by John Bowlt as "a sudden and spectacular renaissance in art and literature,"! the Silver Age is familiar to theatre historians as the age of theatrical modernism when the giants of Russian theatre - Stanislavski, Chekhov, and Meierhold - led actors, directors, playwrights, and designers out of the dark ages of Imperial monopolies, obsolete production practices and conventions, starring actors, and cheap popular drama into a new era of progress and innovation. As a result, for the first time Russian theatre won respect in the West and prominent Russian practitioners and playwrights achieved recognition outside their own country.