Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold

Definition

Theater

  • (1874 - 1940) Russian actor and director. Meyerhold trainedas an actor under Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, a co-founder of theMoscow Art Theatre, which Meyerhold himself joined in 1898.He made his first appearance in Stanislavsky's famous naturalisticproduction of Chekhov's The Seagull.

    In 1902 Meyerhold formed his own company and spent a timetouring the provinces; he also worked briefly at the theater of VeraKomisarjevskaya, a noted Russian actress, in 1906 - 07. By thistime, he had already formulated his controversial theory of bio-mechanicsand his opposition to the naturalism of Stanislavsky led to conflictbetween the two men and Meyerhold's final departure from the MoscowArt Theatre. Meyerhold subsequently directed at theaters in St Petersburg,notably at the Aleksandrinsky, where his productions reflected hisgrowing interest in Oriental theatrical conventions.

    Following the 1917 Revolution Meyerhold was amongst the firstdirectors to offer his services to the new regime. In 1918 he becamethe first director to stage new Soviet drama with his production ofMayakovsky's Mystery-Bouffe (1918). Meyerhold laterproduced the same author's The Bed-Bug (1929) and The BathHouse (1930).

    In the mid 1930s, however, Meyerhold became increasingly unpopularwith the Soviet authorities: his formalist leanings were regardedas suspect, as was his unwillingness to embrace the new socialistrealism. In about 1937 his theater company was closed. Details ofthe end of Meyerhold's life are sketchy. Shortly after his arrestin late 1938 or early 1939, his wife, an actress, was found murderedat their home; nothing more was heard of Meyerhold until the late1950s, when a Soviet encyclopedia stated that he had died in 1942.A later edition of the book, however, gave his death date as 1940.

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