Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 November 2019
The second ’half’, as identified in this book, of Stanislavsky’s artistic enterprise sees him insistently separating art – thus theatre – from politics in the decades after 1917 in which political engagement and political misalignment were matters of life and death. This chapter puts paid to the myths that Stanislavsky was politically naïve and incompetent and as well administratively incompetent. Such biased but reproduced ‘received wisdom’ has failed to acknowledge the actual complexities of the MAT’s struggles to survive the onslaughts of continuing brutal change, particularly of the later 1920s and well into the 1930s during which Stanislavsky was obliged by moral imperatives together with political subterfuges to protect his life’s work. Doing so meant entering into correspondence with Stalin, also to argue against decisions made by his totalitarian leadership concerning the theatre. Most notable was Stanislavsky’s unassuming but well understood protection of Meyerhold and Shostakovich.
Meyerhold’s theatre trajectory is juxtaposed against those of the Proletkult, the Blue Blouse groups, Agitprop and TRAM, highlighting Meyerhold’s theatre innovations while pointing out how the MAT managed its compromises until state co-option triumphed and left Stanislavsky continuing valuable research outside his own edifice but in his last studios.
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