V. F. Komissarzhevskaya Drama Theatre, St. Petersburg

V. F. Komissarzhevskaya Drama Theatre, St. Petersburg

Komissarzhevskaya Theatre (also called Drama Theatre under the Directorship of V. F. Komissarzhevskaya, and Drama Theatre of V. F. Komissarzhevskaya), a private theatre founded in 1904 by V.F. Komissarzhevskaya. In 1904-06 it was housed in the Passage at 19 Italyanskaya Street (memorial plaque installed), and in 1906-09 at 39 Ofitserskaya Street (today Dekabristov Street). The main partners of the Komissarzhevskaya at the Passage were the so-called neurasthenic actors K.V. Bravich and P.V. Samoylov, whose stage techniques were well-fitted to hers. The core of the repertoire included plays by M. Gorky, and playwrights of the Znanie Publishing House (S.A. Naydenov and E.N. Chirikov). A production of Gorky's plays Dachniki (1904) and Children of the Sun (1905) provoked a strong response from the public. But plays by H. Ibsen, G. Hauptmann, A. Strindberg, and A.P. Chekhov staged at the theatre were not considered outstanding artistic events. Komissarzhevskaya's strong point was its feature roles (for example, Nora in A Doll's House and Hilde in The Master Builder by Ibsen), with its artistic value restricted to its original acting. The theatre's productions by N.A. Popov, I.A. Tikhomirov, N.N. Arbatov and A.P. Petrovsky imitated the marginal side of early Moscow Art Theatre performances. Upon the theatre's move to Ofitserskaya Street and invitation of V.E. Meyerhold to become artistic director, its practice changed. Meyerhold continued the symbolist, stylised searches he launched in 1905 at the theatre-studio of the Moscow Art Theatre, strengthened the company with supporters from the New Drama Comradeship, drew members from the artistic collective called The Blue Rose (including N.N. Sapunov, S.Y. Sudeykin), reoriented the theatre toward symbolist drama (mainly that of M. Maeterlinck), toughened the requirements for its set imagery regardless of its expressive medium, and set the performance's objective on having a synthesized artistic unity. The director's innovative work counteracted Komissarzhevskaya; and her psychological acting technique and her leading role at the theatre, which led to Meyerhold's dismissal by the mistress of the theatre in 1907. That period's best productions did not include Komissarzhevskaya (Balaganchik based on A. A. Blok's play, 1906; The Life of Man by L.N. Andreev, 1907), and often the director's stylisation of her ecstatic acting wasn't even within the visible frame of the performance (like Beatrice in Maeterlinck's Sister Beatrice, 1906). After Meyerhold's dismissal, performances were produced by young directors N.N. Evreinov and F.F. Komissarzhevsky, who were not mature enough to establish a sophisticated programme. The public soon lost interest in the theatre and it was closed by its owner in 1909.

Italianskay St., 19 on map

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