Moscow Theatres for Young People: A Cultural History of Ideological Coercion and Artistic Innovation, 1917-2000

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Moscow Theatres for Young People shows how the totalitarian ideology of the Soviet period shaped the practices of Soviet theatre for youth, as exemplified by the two oldest theatres for children and youth in Moscow: the Central Children's Theatre/RAMT and the Moscow Tiuz. Weaving together politics, economics, pedagogy, and aesthetics the author paints a vivid picture of the theatrical developments in Soviet/Russian theatre for young people from its inception in 1917 up to the new millennium, revealing the complex intersections between theatre and its socio-historical conditions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Manon van de Water's fascinating study traces the evolving impact of totalitarianism on two Moscow theatres for youth from the October Revolution of 1917 through three generations of Soviets and into the decade beyond the fall of the USSR. With lively commentary on major writers like Evgenii Shvarts and Viktor Rozov, directors like Maria Knebel and Kama Ginkas, and a host of other pedagogues and artists, she evokes a history that cries out to be remembered by theatre scholars and artists."--Felicia Hardison Londré, Curators' Professor of Theatre, University of Missouri-Kansas City

"In this well-researched historiographical and theoretical interrogation, Manon van de Water illuminates Soviet Russian theatres for young audiences as sites of complex political, esthetic, and pedagogic negotiations. But through this groundbreaking study, van de Water reveals more than just the ideological resonances of theatre for young people at one time and in one place. Through her meticulous scholarship she also explodes the perception of "children's theatre" as benign, or "without ideology," challenging scholars to examine seriously theatre for young people as manifested in multiple cultural and political contexts throughout the world."--Roger L. Bedard, Evelyn Smith Professor of Theatre, Arizona State University

“For anyone fascinated by 20th century Russian theatre, in all its contradictions and its struggles to reflect, or sometimes avoid, the social upheavals around it, this book on Russian theatre for children and young people will be required reading. From the 1917 Revolution onwards, Moscow and Leningrad pioneered the creation of theatres for youth that could play a pivotal role in the emergence of a new national identity, acquired real artistic and political status, and in so doing offered models followed by many other countries. But the very state support envied by so many elsewhere was at the same time its Achilles heel. Manon van de Water's meticulously researched study charts the historical developments and the ideological and artistic stresses and strains encountered by these theatres as they struggled for decades to fulfil the state's ideological goals, swerved from agit-prop to classic fairy tales as the climate required, experimented with style as and when they could, and later had to face the challenge of Perestroika and the rapid changes brought about by the collapse of communism and the arrival of 'market forces'. Her focus upon the work of two of the major Moscow theatres for youth, each responding to the changes in decidedly different ways provides a valuable insight not only into the workings of two significant theatres but into aspects of cultural life in Moscow more generally.”--Tony Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Director, Centre for Applied Theatre Research, Manchester University
“This book certainly brings back many memories, and answers some questions for me as to what was gong on in Russia since my last visit. The insights are very valuable, and I wish I could have had it with me during my last visit -- although at the time (May/June 1992) probably no one knew what was going to happen next…I was very influenced by the work I saw there during my own research, and my theatre in Louisville was heavily influenced by Briantsev's concepts of developmental aesthetic stages. In 1988, Stage One performed a commissioned work by Genadii Mamlin at the Taganka Theatre and also at the Iaroslav Tiuz…My residency was a time of great upheaval. This book helped me see my own experiences in context.”--Moses Goldberg, former producing director, Stage One: The Louisville Children's Theatre; director of one of the first US/Soviet exchanges at Moscow's famed Taganka Theatre, 1988; and author of TYA: Essays on Theater for Young Audiences (2006)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Manon van de Water is a Slavist and an Associate Professor in Theatre Research and Theatre for Youth at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Table of Contents

Part One: The Soviet Period * From Marxism-Leninism to Perestroika and Glasnost
• The Historical Role and Cultural Function of Russian Theatre for Young Audiences
• Thaw and Freeze * Part Two: Perestroika and Glasnost * The Change in Cultural Function with Glasnost and Perestroika
• The Central Children's Theatre
• The Moscow Theatre of the Young Spectator
Part Three: A New Millennium
• Cultural Shifts and Theatrical Innovation
• Shaking the Past: The Russian Academic Youth Theatre
• Provoking Assumptions: Kama Ginkas at the Mtiuz *Afterword

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