Catalogue


Popular theater and society in Tsarist Russia [electronic resource] /
E. Anthony Swift.
imprint
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, c2002.
description
xv, 346 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520225945 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, c2002.
isbn
0520225945 (acid-free paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8845034
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 303-326) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Swift captures the habits, inclinations, tastes, and uses of leisure time among Tsarist Russia's urban lower classes--in all their colorful complexity. He vividly presents the kaleidoscopic world of popular theater, where culture meets entertainment, where Shakespeare and Ostrovsky meet racy vaudeville, farce, and melodrama, and where social and cultural identities blur. His study is a carefully analyzed, superbly documented, and immensely readable exposition of how "popular culture" really worked in prerevolutionary Russia, and how the tastes of its consumers constantly stymied and conflicted with the visions of state, educated society, and radicals alike."--Richard Stites, Georgetown University "The fullest and most interesting account of how the Russian public seized upon the theater as an art form, as entertainment, and as an instrument of popular education. Swift makes Ostrovsky, Stanislavsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy come alive, bringing great clarity to the larger context in which Russia's great dramatists thought about theater, its audience, and its functions."--Jeffrey Brooks, author of When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861-1917 "In this stimulating book, Anthony Swift shows how popular theater became a forum where all the weighty questions of Russia's future were discussed: Who were the Russian people, how should they be governed, and what should they believe?"--Lynn Mally, author of Revolutionary Acts: Amateur Theater and the Soviet State
Flap Copy
"Swift captures the habits, inclinations, tastes, and uses of leisure time among Tsarist Russia's urban lower classes--in all their colorful complexity. He vividly presents the kaleidoscopic world of popular theater, where culture meets entertainment, where Shakespeare and Ostrovsky meet racy vaudeville, farce, and melodrama, and where social and cultural identities blur. His study is a carefully analyzed, superbly documented, and immensely readable exposition of how "popular culture" really worked in prerevolutionary Russia, and how the tastes of its consumers constantly stymied and conflicted with the visions of state, educated society, and radicals alike."--Richard Stites, Georgetown University "The fullest and most interesting account of how the Russian public seized upon the theater as an art form, as entertainment, and as an instrument of popular education. Swift makes Ostrovsky, Stanislavsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy come alive, bringing great clarity to the larger context in which Russia's great dramatists thought about theater, its audience, and its functions."--Jeffrey Brooks, author ofWhen Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861-1917 "In this stimulating book, Anthony Swift shows how popular theater became a forum where all the weighty questions of Russia's future were discussed: Who were the Russian people, how should they be governed, and what should they believe?"--Lynn Mally, author ofRevolutionary Acts: Amateur Theater and the Soviet State
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-06-01:
Tsarist Russian popular theater was a utopian social ideal generally championed by the intelligentsia, opposed by the clergy, and treated with varying degrees of suspicion and support by the state, depending on who was on the throne and whether they believed this theater was "rational recreation" or "national school." Swift (history, Univ. of Essex) raises familiar Russian cultural questions: Are "the people" only peasants or also urban proletariat? Who should speak for the people in determining what kind of theater they need (the intelligentsia often did, in the interest of educating and civilizing the people)? Could the people be trusted to be an audience for theater, and if they could, what could they understand, from what would they benefit most (e.g., classics or folk drama, temperance drama or vaudeville)? The importance of the popular theater owes much to its historical recurrence, cultural pervasiveness, and multiplicity of form and to the porous boundaries separating it from official state and private theaters as exemplified by its influence on Ostrovsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Stanislavsky, and Meyerhold. The author's considerable research in Russian sources (evidenced in bibliography, endnotes, photos, appendix) produces little that is exciting and new, but his detailed, clear, coalesced narrative is quite useful. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. S. Golub Brown University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 2003
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Summaries
Main Description
A detailed and fascinating account of the emergence of popular theater in Russia out of a synthesis of fairground shows, elite theater tradition, folk performance, and the new possibilities of mass culture. Swift shows how the public seized upon theater as an art form, as entertainment, and as an instrument of popular education.
Long Description
This is the most comprehensive study available of the popular theater that developed during the last decades of tsarist Russia. Swift examines the origins and significance of the new "people's theaters" that were created for the lower classes in St. Petersburg and Moscow between 1861 and 1917. His extensively researched study, full of anecdotes from the theater world of the day, shows how these people's theaters became a major arena in which the cultural contests of late imperial Russia were played out and how they contributed to the emergence of an urban consumer culture during this period of rapid social and political change. Swift illuminates many aspects of the story of these popular theaters--the cultural politics and aesthetic ambitions of theater directors and actors, state censorship politics and their role in shaping the theatrical repertoire, and the theater as a vehicle for social and political reform. He looks at roots of the theaters, discusses specific theaters and performances, and explores in particular how popular audiences responded to the plays.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This study looks at the popular theatre that developed during the last decades of tsarist Russia. Swift examines the origins and significance of the new people's theaters that were created for the lower classes in St Petersburg and Moscow between 1861 and 1917.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration and Dates
Introduction
The Urban Theatrical Landscape
People's Theater and Cultural Politics
Censorship and Repertoire
Theater, Temperance, and Popular Culture
Workers' Theater, Proletarian Culture, and Respectability
The People at the Theater: Audience Reception
Conclusion
Epilogue
Appendix of Titles
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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