dr hab. Andriej Moskwin

Department of Central and East European Intercultural Studies, University of Warsaw

 

Belarusian State Theatre-1 in 1920-1930: folklore and ethnographic stage plays[1]

 

   In the early 1920s, Minsk[2] became a center for the consolidation of the Belarusian people and the revival of national culture. The opening of the Belarusian State Theatre in Minsk on August 14, 1920 (since 1926 the BST-1) was a significant event in the Belarusian culture history. From that moment the Belarusian professional theatre began to form.

   For a decade, the artistic supervision of the BST-1 was held by Florian Zhdanovich[3] (1920–1921), Evstignei Mirovich[4] (1921–1925, 1927–1931), and Nikolai Popov[5] (1925–1926) in succession. In their turn, the administering duties of were held by Ales Lyazhnevich[6] (1921–15.10.1922), Mikhas Gursky[7] (16.10.1922–11.06.1926), Yazep Dyla[8] (12.06.1926–11.12.1927) and Vyacheslav Selyakh[9] (12.12.1927–1930).

   As the artistic director, Evstignei Mirovich [Еўсцігней Міровіч], knew that the BST-1 should focus on creating an original Belarusian repertoire. Therefore, the stage director soon established cooperation with playwrights, dedicating quite a lot of time to the stage adaptation of their texts. Thanks to his efforts, plays by Mikhas Charot (“On Midsummer”, “Slutsk’s Crow”, “Mikita’s bast shoe”), Vasily Gorbatsevich (“To the Abyss”, “Wedding”, “Red Flowers of Belarus”), Nazar Byvaevsky (“Esquire’s footman”), Vasily Shashalevich (“Dusk”), Mikhail Gromyko (“Skaryna’s son from Polotsk”, “Above the Neman”), Eugene Romanovich (“Contract or Everything will be fine”, “Surcharge”, “Bloody raid”, “Bridge”) and Grigory Kobets (“Guta”). E. Mirovich begins an active study of Belarusian history, culture, and traditions. These were the times when the policy of Belarusianization covered all spheres of national and cultural life. Mirovich understood that as a result of many years of Polonization and Russification, the Belarusian people, that is, the de facto local population, must rediscover their native Belarusian culture. Therefore, the main aim of the BST-1 was the educational policy and promotion of national culture. Preference was given to works based on folklore and folk rituals: “On Midsummer” [На Купалле] by Mikhas Charot [Міхась Чарот][10] and “The Wedding” [Вяселле] by Vasily Gorbatsevich [Васіль Гарбацэвіч][11]. Mirovich as a stage director of the first play presented the folk custom of searching for fern-flowers, nightly entertainment, and jumping over the bonfire. And in the second play staging, he reconstructed the wedding ceremony with a high degree of accuracy. It is known that Mirovich planned to use this material to revive the Belarusian Batleyka (traditional Belarusian Nativity puppet show) (Пятровіч, 1963, p. 65).

   Mikhas Charot’s “On Midsummer” play (directed by Evstignei Mirovich, set design by Konstantin Eliseev[12], music by Leonid Markevich[13], Vladimir Teravsky[14], choreography by Konstantin Aleksyutovich[15]; November 20, 1921) became a significant cultural event in the BST-1’s history. For the very first time, the stage director worked closely with the scenographer, composer, and choreographer. Together they created a synthetic performance in which the word coexisted with singing, music, and dance. It was the first step towards creating a musical-dramatic show. According to Zmitrok Byadulya, the result was a “mystery that blooms in places with the colors of extraordinary mood and poetry” (Бядуля, 1922, p. 4). The composition and actors’ motion were well thought out and harmonized with the content of the stage play. The actors skillfully combined prose with singing. The folk songs used in the staging weren’t used as a background but were intended to create the main image, that should build up the appropriate mood and tension. About forty musical and vocal compositions were written or edited based on Belarusian folk music exclusively for the play. The audience was strongly impressed by Belarusian folk costumes, original ornaments, and props: various agricultural tools collected by Eliseev in an ethnographic expedition to the Slutsk region. For the first time during two years, the scenography was not borrowed, transferred from one stage show to another, but made from scratch for the needs of this exact production. Critics’ reviews were positive: they emphasized that the theatre has made huge progress.

   The play’s action takes place[16] on Midsummer – the shortest night of the year from 23 to 24 June. According to the legend, a fern blooms only during this night, and whoever finds this flower will find happiness. The central plotline of the play is the love between the housemaid Alesya (Alesya Alexandrovich [Алеся Александровіч]) and the blacksmith’s son Andrei (Vladimir Krylovich [Уладзімір Крыловіч]). Alesya and Andrei are in love with each other since their childhood. Andrew has great authority among the village youth. Despite his young age, he traveled a lot and changed several professions: he worked as a carpenter, had the opportunity to meet different people, gain experience, and learn about life. However, Midsummer’s night tests the strength of their love. When Alesya jumps over the fire, the local squire Vladik (Boris Dolsky [Барыс Дольскi]) catches her. Suddenly he runs out of the trees and joins the fun. The ambiance of this night is influencing Alesya, who takes the whole situation to heart. She says: “I am scared so much ‘cause squire caught me… / My heart was pounding through my chest… / That strange look in his eyes, while staring at me…” (Чарот, 1998, p. 247), “Why my heart / aches and longs” (Чарот, 1998, p. 243). Vladik experiences the same feelings. Left with Alesya face to face, he confesses: “Only that anxiety / gripped my trembling heart. / I want to meet her / in the silence of the night. / Let the heart feel the pain / to remember the days of our past” (Чарот, 1998, pp. 236–237). The guy is experiencing a strange doubling: on the one hand, he has long been friends with Yadya (Ekaterina Purovskaya [Кацярына Пуроўская]) – the daughter of a nobleman, he loves her and intends to marry her, but on the other hand, he’s fascinated by a simple village girl. Paraska (one of the girls) first tells Alesya (“This is your fiancé, Alesya / Because he caught you after the bonfire on Midsummer!” [Чарот, 1998, p. 232]), and then she tells Vladik about Alesya (“You, oh squire, must now marry Alesya” [Чарот, 1998, p. 235]), which makes the ambiance more and more complicated.

   A year later, Alesya and Vladik meet each other again on the midsummer’s day. Alesya’s feelings for the guy cooled down, especially when she discovered his relationship with his mistress Yadya. But Vladik himself was looking for a meeting with the girl and for an opportunity to confess his feelings. Alesya and Andrei are happy, they have already confessed their love for each other and, unlike others, they don’t need to spend the night looking for fern-flowers. However, Alesya’s joyful mood fades away when she discovers that Andrei must run away and hide in order not to be arrested on suspicion (by the owner of the estate Francis) that his actions provoked the growth of negative sentiments among the peasants. To save her beloved one from arrest, Alesya asks Vladik to intercede for Andrei. After seeing this, Yada decides to get rid of her competitor: “How dare the housemaid stand in the way of my happiness! / How dare she to separate me from loving whom I want! / How dare she dishonoring my noble family…” (Чарот, 1998, p. 263). She asks Alesya to go to the river together. Alesya feels the danger and addresses her mistress following words: “I am scared tonight. / My heart is terrified. / […] The death is in my eyes” (Чарот, 1998, p. 262).

   The premonitions soon become a reality: during the wreath-laying ceremony Yadya pushes Alesya into the water and the girl drowns. To the lord, who is just approaching the river, Yadya says with hysterical laughter: “I made your flower of happiness to become food for fishes, mwahaha!” (Чарот, 1998, p. 263). Unfortunately, help arrives too late and Alesya can no longer be rescued. During the last scene, the girls lay wreaths on Alesya’s body, and the fellows carry her home in their arms. However, on stage, you can hear the roar of the wind, the spine-chilling cries of birds, and the howl of wild beasts. Thunder is heard, the stage is illuminated with lightning, and there is darkness at the back of the stage. Everyone is seized with fear and horror. “The squire’s estate is on fire…” (Чарот, 1998, p. 265), – the last words of the shepherd Danila (Genrikh Grigonis [Генрых Грыгоніс]).

   The performance begins and ends with a midsummer rite. Behind the curtain, sewn from folk hand-woven towels, the audience can see an incredible landscape: a forest glade surrounded by old trees and a quiet streamlet aside. Various creatures: a waterman, a werewolf, a witch, a forest spirit, and six water nymphs appear in turn from different directions: from trees, bushes, and the water. The audience is amazed by their appearance due to the use of scenic effects: the werewolf appears embraced by wind, the spirit comes out of the burning hollow tree, the waterman comes out of the splashing water, and the witch appears with a whistle and devilish laughter. Each creature tells a short story of its life. The stories of water nymphs shocked the audience the most. They climbed up the willow tree in the center of the stage, sat on its branches, and sang about their unfortunate fate of the drowned. When one of the heroes, Danila the shepherd, appears, the water nymphs first surround him and then start to tickle him, trying to get him into their fun. A moment later, youth dressed in Belarusian costumes run onto the stage with laughter. They came to celebrate the Midsummer. They light a fire and prepare to jump. On one side there were girls, and on the other there were guys. The girls were singing: “Don’t wait, guys. / You have to be brave. / You’ve only to catch us. / And then we’ll love you”, and the guys were answering: “Though the fire burns. / None of you will run away from us. / The one who wants to catch you / will run to the fire”. Then they sang together: “Let us sing together, / seek for happiness together” (Чарот, 1998, p. 231).

   In the last third act, the girls weave wreaths and then put them into the water. There is an extremely mysterious atmosphere: the stars are shining in the sky, there is a light wind, and a melody is heard from afar. The girls talk about hopes for a better life and dreams of love in their songs. Then, the village youth goes out into the glade, singing “Oh, early in the morning on St. John’s Day”. The actors played in such a way that the audience had a feeling that the rite shown on stage was an authentic one. The performance of the main actors, Alesya Alexandrovich (Alesya) and Boris Dolsky (Vladik) was distinguished by lyricism, sincerity, and naturalness. The actors wanted to evoke the audience’s sympathy for each character (Бядуля, 1922, p. 4). First of all to evoke the audience’s sympathy for Alesya – the gentle, sensitive, and very naïve character. She suffers from her orphanhood and hates the squire’s house, the rooms of which remind her prison. The audience also likes Vladik, who was fascinated by the beauty of Alesya and fell in love with her at first sight. Because he is an illegitimate child of a housemaid and a squire, and as a child, he also experienced poverty and humiliation, only after the death of his master inherited his estate. On the one hand, he intends to marry Yadya and increase his fortune, and on the other, he misses the simple village life.

   In parallel with the main folk plotline of the play, there’s a development of the important social line. It was presented through Andrei’s character, which tries to resist the oppression of the master, and as a result, plans an escape. In the scene when the teamster doesn’t allow the guys to take a short break, Andrei boldly tells him, “Get out, you moron! I will smash you like a frog!” (Чарот, 1998, p. 245). To support and inspire the young man, Danila the shepherd tells him a story of a brave peasant who dared to come out against his landlord, ran into the woods, gathered a squad of offended in two years, and then began to revenge by setting fire to the squires’ estates. “A wise story was born about those days: / We need to look for a flower in the groves by ourselves” (Чарот, 1998, p. 247) – concluded Danila. These words encouraged Andrei even more, and he decided: “They stole men’s happiness, / The squires have stolen, what evil monsters they are… / […] We’ve suffered enough… / The ray of hope has not extinguished. / We’ll look for freedom by ourselves” (Чарот, 1998, p. 247).

   Being inspired by the “On Midsummer” success, Mirovich decides to continue the ethnographic direction and soon stages the “ceremonial image” in four acts, – Vasily Gorbatsevich’s “The Wedding” (directed by Evstignei Mirovich, set designer Konstantin Eliseev, composer Leonid Markevich; June 24, 1922). It was the writing debut of a teacher from the town of Dukora, who joined the activities of a local drama group (Гарбацэвіч, 1960, p. 82), working as an actor (mostly for female characters) and as a director. The idea of writing the play came to Gorbatsevich in 1915, when he, as a student of the Minsk Higher Pedagogical School, was forced to evacuate to Yaroslavl, where he met Maxim Bogdanovich[17] and presented him with several ceremonial wedding scenes with his classmates. Working as a teacher, Gorbatsevich was very interested in folk art, collecting songs and dances. He met Mirovich during rehearsals of the “On Midsummer” play and invited him to Dukora to show how local youth celebrate this holiday. “E. Mirovich called me to him twice during the preparation of the play. I especially noticed in Mirovich’s charming image that he passionately admired everything truly folklore. When I showed him the rites of the Belarusian wedding with the typical wedding songs’ performance, he was completely captivated. Now when Terovsky was invited, he notated these songs from my voice. On my second visit to Minsk, I’ve already had an opportunity to enjoy the songs performed by a theatrical choir” (Казека, 1973, p. 204) remembered Vasil Garbatsevich later. In “The Wedding”, just like in the “On Midsummer” show, the folklore plotline was twisted with a civil one. The young and beautiful Gripina (Alesya Alexandrovich) from a middle-class peasant family is about to marry the kulak’s son Lyavon (Boris Dolsky). She admired him: “Lyavon always came with such splendor. Dressed in brand new store-bought clothes, with gold-plated watch chain, and with colored handkerchief in a breast pocket. And chrome boots with a squeak” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, pp. 93-94). However, Gripina’s parents, Timokh (Vladimir Krylovich) and Matruna, are beginning to doubt the decision. Timokh recalls gossip about the family of their future son-in-law: they say that the kulaks built their estate on the misfortunes and tragedies of the peasants, some of whom lost their jobs without receiving any salary. Despite this, after much deliberation, they decide to give their permission for the marriage.

   However, during the engagement, the joy of the bride’s parents fades a bit, when Lyavon asks a foal in addition to the previously discussed dowry (the best cow, pig, two sheep, and a chest). In aim not to spoil the happiness of the daughter, the parents agree to Lyavon’s request. However, the very next day, at the wedding, they change their minds, and the offended Lyavon leaves the bride’s house during the party. Gripina tries to reassure her parents, “Leave it, Mom. If he ran away, let him disappear. It would be better for me to be your helper at home than for Arkhip to be the one begging for forgiveness” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 92). Her friend Vasily is trying to help her. Although he is way poorer than Lyavon, he has feelings for the girl since they were children. Without hesitation, he asks her parents for Gripina’s hand and immediately receives their consent. Soon Lyavon returns with his father and, to reduce the conflict, offers Timokhov’s family a piece of land and five hectares of forest. But when they discover that Gripina already has a new fiancé, the scandal begins. Lyavon even tries to kill his opponent. Vasily not only bravely defends himself but soon begins to defeat Lyavon. As a result, the “uninvited guests” were kicked away, and one of the local women joyfully shouts: “The Tsar was dethroned!!” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 101).

   When preparing “The Wedding”, as in the case of the “On Midsummer” play, Mirovich tried to show the beauty and uniqueness of the wedding ceremony, in which every Belarusian took part at least once in his life: either as a direct participant, or at least as a guest. That’s why the stage director tried to make each scene authentic, instantly recognizable to the audience. When the work was finished, Mirovich proudly said: “You will find such a Paraska [one of the participants of the ceremony] in any village” (Пятровіч, 1963, p. 47).

   The action of “The Wedding” takes place during two days (engagement day and wedding ceremony day). Every character of the play is dressed in Belarusian national costume. The director focused on several critical scenes: the bride mourns her virginity; the parents of the bride and groom discuss the dowry with the matchmakers; the bride asks her parents the permission to marry; the groom prepares for family life; the bride is carried across the threshold; wedding loaf competition; bride ransom, and giving gifts. All this is accompanied by folk ritual songs and dances, including quadrille, Yurka and miatselitsa (“blizzard”) are performed.

   Before the groom arrives, Gripina says goodbye to her family, addressing her mother the following song: “Oh, my mother, / you let me go away, but you don’t know / what my husband will be like”. At the engagement, women sing to the groom: “God gave Lyavon three gifts. / The first gift is a gold ring God gave him, / The second gift is a silk handkerchief God gave him. / The third gift is the young Gripina God gave him” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 67). In the mourning for a young girl’s life scene, one group of women sings: “Young Gripina, / All yours is over. / Girl’s games, / Boy’s jokes. / No more living with your mommy. / No more living with your mommy / No more wreaths weaving, / No more wreaths weaving / No more dances to dance, / No more dances to dance, / You’ve got to go to serve your mother-in-law” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 69), other continue: “Gripina went to tie the knot, / Forgot her shawl. / Oh mother, give her comb, / Give her comb to braids before tying the knot” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 69). Then women cut the groom’s hair three times saying: “No more being unattached, / The time to make a nest has come, / The time to make a nest has come, / To give birth to babies” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 77). During the development of the plot, folk ritual songs are mixed with Belarusian folk songs of similar topics.

   Acts I, III, and IV take place in the bride’s house, while the second is in the groom’s house. The social difference between the two families is reflected in the scenography (БДАМЛіМ, p. 1). Konstantin Eliseev showed one of the most important rooms of a peasant house – a “sviatlitsa” (a drawing room). On the left, there is a threshold and a furnace, near the furnace there are poker, a shovel, and a broom. There is a bench along the wall, on the right, there’s a shelf with the icon, decorated with an embroidered towel and bouquets of ears of corn and herbs sanctified in a church. Nearby there is a table covered with a white tablecloth and wooden chairs. Bread and salt are on the table. The groom’s room is furnished with rather expensive and pompous furniture of various styles. At the back of the room, there is a bed with pillows and a duvet, covered with an oriental-style blanket, a wardrobe, a sideboard, an ottoman, and a dressing table with a mirror. On the sides, there are a floor clock, a gramophone, and a piano. A table with chairs and a stand for flowers are in the center of the room. Belarusian researchers Uladzimir Niafiod, Sergey Petrovich and Alexander Butakov unanimously claimed that all the efforts of the playwright, director and actors were aimed exclusively at showing the ceremony’s “luxury and splendor” (Бутаков, 1957, p. 23), but the play “did not have any significant, creatively original characters” (Няфёд, 1970, p. 21) and references to current [social] issues. The reason for such an opinion was, first and foremost, the inability of researchers to read the text of the play, which was considered lost for many years.

   The groom’s uncle Anton (Genrikh Grigonis) is an expressive image of the play. Anton is a wise man who understands life. He performs his function of a matchmaker very responsibly and at the proper level. When entering the bride’s house, he immediately draws attention to himself, saying to the owner: “When I was over you last summer, I saw a beautiful flower. I would like you not to sell it to me, but give it as a gift” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 63). It is clear that it is he who gives rhythm to the whole action: begins a dialogue with all the characters, telling what they should do; from time to time jokes towards the household’s head or guests; shares tips about family life; dancing and singing. When he saw that the events were getting out of control, Anton immediately took the initiative, saying: “…let’s do everything according to the customs of our grandfathers” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 68). Taking a clear position in life, Anton is not afraid to speak the truth out loud. Alone with Timokh, he tries not only to make him feel ashamed of agreeing with Arkhip but also tries to dissuade him from the idea of marrying his daughter to Lyavon: “Apparently your daughter didn’t like him that much. And why not do the following: to give the full right to Gripina to decide on her fate. If there’ll be a big-hearted young man and not the ‘fat-cat’ one. […] If she won’t stop it now, she will regret it later, but it will be too late” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 70).

   He suggests Timokh think about the candidacy of Vasily Drozga, who’s been in love with Gripina for a long time, and suffers greatly from her future marriage. Noticing that Arkhip and Zosia intend to use their future daughter-in-law only as a servant (“We’ve no free bread. Let her know that her mother-in-law is not her mother, and her father-in-law is not her father” [Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 71], – says Zosya) Anton comes clean without hesitation: “Is it necessary to have great education to see how a person gradually turns from a skinny larva into a fat bedbug? […] You only command and count the profits” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, pp. 72–73).

   And when Semyon – the Arkhip’s son, blames the turncoats, Anton finds the courage to say “Clever people told us that there are two Russias: the first is the Russia of the tsar, the capitalists, and the landlords; and the second is the workman’s Russia. We won’t go for the scaffold in the name of your Russia” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 76). When everything happens the way he wanted, Vasily is happy to tell Arkhip: “You know, Uncle Arkhip, no trick will help you. History has judged you”. Following his example, Anton adds “…your time is over. Our time has come” (Гарбацэвіч, 1983, p. 101). This fragment refers to pre-war history, which is essential for this staging.

   Summing up, it should be noted that these two performances occupy an important place in the history of Belarusian State Theatre-1. They were very popular compared to other performances of the theatre. First, they combined two important elements: a melodrama with Belarusian folklore. Secondly, they referred to the Belarusian tradition and culture. Thirdly, they showed the beauty of Belarusian nature, songs and folk costumes. It caused that the audience felt the community, belonging to a long-standing culture and tradition, and also experienced catharsis.

References:

  • Бутаков Aлександр, Искусство жизненной правды. Театр имени Янки Купалы в 20-30-х годах [The art of the truth of life. Yanka Kupala Theatre in the 20s and 30s], Минск 1957.
  • Бядуля Змітрок, На Купальле [On Midsummer], «Савецкая Беларусь» 23.11.1922, No 262, с. 4.
  • Гарбацэвіч Васіль, Вяселле [The Wedding], [In:] В. Гарбацэвіч, Чырвоныя кветкі Беларусі [Red flowers of Belarus], Мінск 1983.
  • Гарбацэвіч Васіль, На світаньні [At dawn], [In:] Беларускае мастацтва. 2 [Belarusian art. V. 2]. Мінск 1960, с. 82.
  • Казека Янка, Адзін з першых. Васілю Гарбацэвічу – восемдзесят гадоў [One of the first. Vasily Gorbatsevich is eighty years old], «Полымя» 1973, № 4, с. 204.
  • Няфёд Уладзімір, Беларускі акадэмічны тэатр імя Янкі Купалы [Yanka Kupala Belarusian Academic Theatre], Мінск 1970, с. 21.
  • Няфёд Уладзімір, Беларускі дзяржаўны тэатр [Belarusian State Theatre], [In:] Гісторыя беларускага тэатра. 2: Тэатр савецкай эпохі: 1917–1945 [History of the Belarusian Theatre. V. 2. Theatre of the Soviet period], Мінск 1985.
  • Пятровіч Сяргей, Народны артыст БССР Е. Міровіч [People’s Artist of the BSSR E. Mirovich], Мінск
  • Чарот Міхась, На Купалле [On Midsummer], [In:] П’есы ХІХ–пачатку ХХ ст. (рэд. Я. Саламевіч), Мінск 1998.

 

Archival materials

 

  • Елісееў Канстанцін, Вяселле, In: БДАМЛіМ, ф. 126, воп. 4, адз. зах. 100, 101, c. 1.

 

dr hab. Andriej Moskwin

Department of Central and East European Intercultural Studies, University of Warsaw

 

Belarusian State Theatre-1 in 1920-1930: folklore and ethnographic stage plays

 

Summary

The research of the article focuses on the activities of Belarusian State Theatre-1 in the 1920s. It was the period when the first state theater was established, and also the repertoire was shaped. The artistic director of the ensemble, Evstignei Mirovich, proposed a program that, on the one hand, was to help the actors to improve their skills, and on the other hand, to make the theater an important place of urban life. An important place in the repertoire is occupied by folklore and ethnographic performances: “On Midsummer” by Mikhas Charot and “The Wedding” by Vasily Gorbatsevich. With the help of text, photos from the performance and reviews, the author reconstructs these two performances.

 

ანდრეი მოსკვინი

დოქტორი, ვარშავის უნივცერსიტეტი,

ცენტრალური და აღმოსავლეთ ევროპის საერთაშორისო კვლევების დეპარტამენტი,

ბელორუსიის სახელმწიფო თეატრი-1 1920-1930-იან წლებში:

ფოლკლორული და ეთნოგრაფიული დადგმები

 

კვლევაში ავტორი ყურადღებას ამახვილებს ბელორუსიის სახელმწიფო თეატრი -1 – ის საქმიანობაზე 1920-იან წლებში. ამ პერიოდში  დაარსდა პირველი სახელმწიფო თეატრი ბელორუსიაში და ჩამოყალიბდა რეპერტუარი.

დასის სამხატვრო ხელმძღვანელმა ევსტიგნე მიროვიჩმა შემოქმედებით კოლექტივს შესთავაზა პროგრამა, რომელიც, ერთი მხრივ, მსახიობებს პროფესიული უნარების გაუმჯობესებასა და დაოსტატებაში დაეხმარებოდა, ხოლო მეორე მხრივ, თეატრს ქალაქის ცხოვრებაში მნიშვნელოვან ადგილს მიაკუთვნებდა.

იმ პერიოდის სათეატრო რეპერტუარში მნიშვნელოვანი ადგილი ეკავა ფოლკლორულ და ეთნოგრაფიულ წარმოდგენებს. ამ მხრივ, გასაკუთრებით გამოირჩეოდა  მიხას ჩაროტას „შუა ზაფხულში“ და ვასილი გორბაცევიჩის „ქორწილი“.  

ანდრეი მოსკვინი თავის სტატიაში ამ ორ სპექტაკლს ლიტერატურული ტექსტების, საარქივო ფოტომასალისა და სხვადასხვა დროს დაწერილი რეცენზიის საშუალებით აღადგენს.

[1] The article was written on the occasion of the 100th Yanka Kupala Belarusian National Academic Theatre (formerly: Belarusian State Theatre-1).

[2] According to the 1922 census, 102,375 people lived in Minsk: 34% Belarusians, 47% Jews, 9% Russians, 5.5% Poles, and 4% Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians, and Tatars. and the Germans. Compared to the 1897 census, the number of Belarusians increased significantly, while the number of Russians and Poles decreased. Then Belarusians made up 9%, Russians – 25%, and Poles – 11.5% (Результаты переписи в Минске [Census results in Minsk], «Звязда» 18.01.1923, No 14, с. 3).

[3] Florian Zhdanovich (1884–1937) – actor and director. After graduating from the theatre school in Warsaw (1902), Zhdanovich worked with Polish troupes for several years. Then he returned to Minsk (1907), where he began to plan the organization of a Belarusian theatre troupe. Before the revolution he popularized Belarusian literature, reading poems by modern Belarusian poets in the Houses of Culture. In 1913 he created a theatrical ensemble, which included Belarusians and Poles. This band staged Yanka Kupala’s “Paulinka” (August 15, 1913) in Radashkovichi. Later, in 1917, Zhdanovich was forced to leave Belarus. In 1917–1920 – artistic director of the First Fellowship of Belarusian Drama and Comedy (TBDiK-1), in 1920-1929 – actor and director of the Belarusian Workers’ Theater (Minsk). In 1930 he was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison. From 1933 he lived in Saratov, where he worked as a director. In 1937 he was arrested again and sentenced to death.

[4] Evstignei Mirovich (original – Dunaev, 1878–1952) is an actor, director and playwright. He was born in St. Petersburg, but his parents come from the town of Rezhitsa in Vitebsk province. That’s why he has interest in Belarusian history and culture. In 1921–1925, 1927–1931, 1941–1945 – artistic director of BST-1, 1932–1935 – artistic directors of the Theater of Working Youth (Gomel), 1937–1941. – artistic director of the Theater for Young Spectators (Minsk), 1945–1952 – dean of the acting faculty of the Belarusian State Theater Institute (Minsk). In 1938–1941 – head of the Acting School (Minsk).

[5] Nikolai Popov (1871–1949) was a director and playwright. 1902–1907 – artistic director of the People’s Theater in St. Petersburg. 1907–1910 and 1929–1934 – director of the Maly Theater (Moscow). He collaborated with the V. Komisarzhevskaya Theater and the Bolshoi Theater.

[6] Ales Lyazhnevich (1890-1937) – Belarusian playwright and theatrical figure. In 1922-1926 in Moscow, director of the Belarusian theatre studio, then worked as an inspector of the People’s Commissariat of Arts of the BSSR. In 1930 he was arrested, and in 1937 – shot.

[7] Mikhas Gursky (1890 – after 1960) – theatrical figure, editor. In 1910-13 he studied at Vilnius University. In 1914-18 he served in the Russian army. 1922-1926 Director of BST-1. In 1929-30 he worked at the Academy of Sciences of the BSSR. He was arrested in 1930 and in 1931 he was sent to Gulag for 5 years.

[8] Yazep Dyla (1880-1973) – Belarusian writer, public and cultural figure. Dyla was the head of Inbelkult (1922-1925). From April 1925 till October 1926 he was the director of the BST-1. From October 1926 to 1928 – again works in Inbelkult. Arrested by the GPU on 1930, and later he was exiled to the Gulag for 5 years. Then he lived in Saratov. On August 22, 1938, he was arrested again (on March 10, 1939, the proceedings were stopped). Rehabilitated on November 15, 1957. Because he was forbidden to return to Belarus he lived in Saratov.

[9] Vyacheslav Selyakh (directed by Selyakh-Kachansky, 1885-1976) was a theatrical figure and soloist of the opera. A graduate of the Teachers’ Seminary (1905, Molodechno) and the Conservatory (1915, St. Petersburg). Soloist of the Mariinsky Theater (1915-1924). Head of the music section of the IBK (1924-1928). Teacher of singing at the Music College (1924-1927). He staged “The Mermaid” by Alexander Dargomyzhsky (May 14, 1927, BST-1), played one of the roles in the opera. In 1944 he emigrated and popularized Belarusian music – first in Berlin, then in the United States. He wrote music for poems by Belarusian authors, including Yanka Kupala, Kanstantsia Builo and Tsishka Hartny (Z. Zhylunovich).

[10] Mikhas Charot (original – Kudzielka, 1896-1937) – poeta, dramatopisarz, działacz kulturalno-społeczny. Po ukończeniu Teachers’ Seminary (Molodechno, 1917) pracował w dzienniku “Sawieckaja Białoruś” (1920-1929; od 1925 jako główny redaktor). Jeden z założycielo i kierowników literary association “Maladnyak” (od 1923). Aresztowany (24.01.1937) i wkrótce rozstrzelany.

[11] Vasily Gorbatsevich (1895-1885) – Belarusian playwright, memoirist, teacher. One of the founders of Belarusian Soviet drama. Author of several plays that were successfully performed on the Belarusian stage.

[12] Konstantin Eliseev (1890-1968) – Russian Soviet graphic artist, theater and film artist. Drew cartoons on political and everyday topics for Moscow newspapers. He has worked in many theaters in Russia and Belarus as a set designer.

[13] Leanid Markevich (1896–1980) was a composer and conductor, in 1921–1928 – an orchestra conductor in BST-1.

[14] Vladimir Teravsky (1871-1938) – composer. In 1914 he founded one of the first Belarusian choirs in Minsk, reorganized into the Belarusian National Choir, which performed throughout the country. In 1920-1930. – Chief choirmaster of BST-1. The author (together with Leanid Markevich) of music for BST-1 performances. In 1930 he was fired from the theater, in 1938 he was arrested and shot.

[15] Konstantin Aleksyutovich (1884-1943) – choreographer. Graduate of the St. Petersburg Ballet School (1906). In 1921-1925 – choreographer BST-1 (staged dances, games, rituals in performances). Collaborated with the theatre group of Vladislav Golubok. In 1930-1937 he was a choreographer of the Theater of Working Youth (TRAM). In 1937-1941 he was a choreographer of the Belarusian Philharmonic.

[16] For a long time, the text of the drama was considered lost, and the author of the history of BST-1 U. Niafiod gave a short summary of the play from the words of eyewitnesses who already poorly remembered it. Hence the misinterpretation of both the entire play and individual scenes. (У. Няфёд, Беларускі дзяржаўны тэатр, [In:] Гісторыя беларускага тэатра, т. 2: Тэатр савецкай эпохі: 1917–1945, Мінск 1985, с. 63-64).

[17] Maxim Bogdanovich (1891–1917) was a Belarusian poet, journalist, translator, literary critic and historian of literature. He is considered as one of the founders of the modern Belarusian.

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