Russia's Theatrical Past
Court Entertainment in the Seventeenth Century
Published by: Indiana University Press
In the 17th century, only Moscow's elite had access to the magical, vibrant world of the theater.
In Russia's Theatrical Past, Claudia Jensen, Ingrid Maier, Stepan Shamin, and Daniel C. Waugh mine Russian and Western archival sources to document the history of these productions as they developed at the court of the Russian tsar. Using such sources as European newspapers, diplomats' reports, foreign travel accounts, witness accounts, and payment records, they also uncover unique aspects of local culture and politics of the time. Focusing on Northern European theatrical traditions, the authors explore the concept of intertheater, which describes transmissions between performing traditions, and reveal how the Muscovite court's interest in theater and other musical entertainment was strongly influenced by diplomatic contacts.
Russia's Theatrical Past, made possible by an international research collaborative, offers fresh insight into how and why Russians went to such great efforts to rapidly develop court theater in the 17th century.
A Note on Dates, Transliteration, and Translation
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The Comedians Come to Pskov
1. Court Music at Home and Abroad
2. The Theater of Diplomacy
3. Introducing Pickleherring: The Origins of the Russian Court Theater
4. The Plays and "Ballets" for the Tsar
5. The Play of Tamerlane
6. From Tamerlane to Tamerlane and Beyond
The eccentric characters, amusing anecdotes, and pointed insights draw the reader in, making this an appetizing work.~Valerie Kivelson
Fascinating and entertaining, Russia's Theatrical Past takes us backstage at Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich's new court theater in the 1670s, tracking how actors, musicians, and theatrical companies from Northern Europe joined in Moscow with other directors, musicians, and amateur actors (many from the 'German Suburb') and staged works from Biblical epics to Tamburlaine. With on-the-ground detail (sets, casts, salaries, scripts), the authors display the world of theater and performance in Muscovy as a dynamic interchange of Northern European, Ukrainian Orthodox, and Muscovite culture.~Nancy S. Kollmann