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Popular Theater and Society in Tsarist Russia
     

Popular Theater and Society in Tsarist Russia

by E. Anthony Swift
 

This is the most comprehensive study available of the popular theater that developed during the last decades of tsarist Russia. Swift examines the origins and significance of the new "people's theaters" that were created for the lower classes in St. Petersburg and Moscow between 1861 and 1917. His extensively researched study, full of anecdotes from the theater

Overview


This is the most comprehensive study available of the popular theater that developed during the last decades of tsarist Russia. Swift examines the origins and significance of the new "people's theaters" that were created for the lower classes in St. Petersburg and Moscow between 1861 and 1917. His extensively researched study, full of anecdotes from the theater world of the day, shows how these people's theaters became a major arena in which the cultural contests of late imperial Russia were played out and how they contributed to the emergence of an urban consumer culture during this period of rapid social and political change.

Swift illuminates many aspects of the story of these popular theaters—the cultural politics and aesthetic ambitions of theater directors and actors, state censorship politics and their role in shaping the theatrical repertoire, and the theater as a vehicle for social and political reform. He looks at roots of the theaters, discusses specific theaters and performances, and explores in particular how popular audiences responded to the plays.

Editorial Reviews

Richard Stites
Swift captures the habits, inclinations, tastes, and uses of leisure time among Tsarist Russia's urban lower classes-in all their colorful complexity. He vividly presents the kaleidoscopic world of popular theater, where culture meets entertainment, where Shakespeare and Ostrovsky meet racy vaudeville, farce, and melodrama, and where social and cultural identities blur. His study is a carefully analyzed, superbly documented, and immensely readable exposition of how "popular culture" really worked in prerevolutionary Russia, and how the tastes of its consumers constantly stymied and conflicted with the visions of state, educated society, and radicals alike.
Lynn Mally
In this stimulating book, Anthony Swift shows how popular theater became a forum where all the weighty questions of Russia's future were discussed: Who were the Russian people, how should they be governed, and what should they believe?
Jeffrey Brooks
The fullest and most interesting account of how the Russian public seized upon the theater as an art form, as entertainment, and as an instrument of popular education. Swift makes Ostrovsky, Stanislavsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy come alive, bringing great clarity to the larger context in which Russia's great dramatists thought about theater, its audience, and its functions.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520225947
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
12/30/2002
Series:
Studies on the History of Society and Culture Series
Pages:
364
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
1810L (what's this?)

Meet the Author


E. Anthony Swift is a Lecturer in the History Department at the University of Essex.

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