Before the October Revolution, political exiles and Jewish refugees spread the image of Russia as a vast prison, riven by violence and corruption. After the Revolution, émigrés who scattered across the globe broadcast their idea of a fabulous, high-spirited Russia. Cabaret – an arena for theatrical innovation, stylistic experimentation, and avant-garde audacity – was a choice medium to dramatize this idea to non-Russian audiences. Throughout the 1920s, émigré cabarets enjoyed great popularity: Nikita Baliev's Chauve- Souris in New York, Jurij Jushnij's Die Blaue Vogel in Berlin, J. Son's Maschere in Italy, among others. Although the acts were polyglot and the compère pattered away in a pidgin version of whichever language was current, the chief attraction was an artificial Russian - ness. Cabarets promulgated a vision of a fairy-tale, toy-box Russia, akin to the pictures on Palekh boxes. This candy-box depiction was then perpetuated by nightclubs staffed by waiters in Cossack blouses and balalaika orchestras. Nostalgic regret for a factitious homeland deepened among the departed. In contrast, Soviet Russia came to look even more hostile and desolate. With time, the distance between the lives they had lived and those portrayed to foreigners increased, and became unmoored from reality. Laurence Senelick's most recent books include Soviet Theater: a Documentary History (2014, with Sergei Ostrovsky), the second, enlarged edition of A Historical Dictionary of Russian Theatre (2015), and Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2017).