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Trends in the repertoire of the Moscow Art Theater from 1917-1941 Weeks, Richard Arnold

Abstract

When the Moscow Art Theater appeared in New York in 1924, it was the apostle of a new dramatic naturalism bent on depicting man's inner torment through an intense psychological probing. Some forty years later, one of the world's greatest art theaters occupies only an insignificant position in the world of art. Why is this so? It is the purpose of this dissertation to answer this question by a careful analysis of the trends in the repertoire of the Moscow Art Theater. An analysis of the repertoire reveals several major trends in the Theater's repertoire after the Revolution of 1917. These trends are revealed through performances in the following areas: (a) Russian classical plays; (b) Adaptations of Russian classical novels; (c) Translations of West European classical plays; (d) Mikhail Bulgakov and his controversial plays; (e) Modern Soviet drama. An analysis of carefully selected plays from each trend reveals how the Moscow Art Theater was systematically sapped of all its inner vitality and enslaved to a regime. The resultant loss of creative endeavour and the Theater's reliance on the Russian classics in the years following World War II confirms the indivisibility of art and freedom. Some of the Moscow Art Theater's trends were established before the Revolution of 1917. This dissertation therefore, begins by tracing the Theater's repertorial trends since the first performance in 1898.

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