n Slavic Almanac : The South African Journal for Slavic, Central and Eastern European Studies - Petr Potemkin's 'Petrushka'

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1025-3386


At the beginning of the twentieth century, plays by Petr Potemkin were staged in a number of St Petersburg theatres and were well known and liked by the theatre-going public. Potemkin continued to write plays following his emigration, but none of his plays are known in his home country as they were never republished in Russia. One may only assess their merit on the grounds of surviving summaries and witnesses' accounts, as well as on the basis of texts which have survived in private collections and theatre libraries. As a rule these were short plays, written in the genres of farce, buffoonery and parody, with political allusions to the situation in the country, or to concrete personalities among bohemian St Petersburg. The plays, which dealt with the issues of the day, were funny yet good-natured ... Reading them today immerses one anew in the atmosphere of the Silver Age, and opens the door to a clearer understanding of its many peculiarities. The buffoonery 'Petrushka' was written in 1908 for the opening of the new theatre-cabaret 'Lukomor'e' as a parody of the puppet-show staged by V. Meyerhold. Despite the fact that the stage decorations were made by M. Dobuzhinsky, the production was not as popular as expected. Nevertheless, 'Petrushka' gave birth to many stylisations, and secured for its author a reputation as a master in the genre of short plays.

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