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Russian Theater of the 17th Century
July 28, 2014 20:55

Performances by the skomorokhi, i.e. wandering comic minstrels enjoyed wide popularity. Their merrymaking ways still carried on pagan traditions in many respects, though often charged with social critical exposure. Naturally, the authorities and officials persecuted them. In 1648 the imperial order banned these shows, and dictated to break and burn “devilish masks, tambourines and pipes” down. Moreover, it decreed to beat those who disobeyed. However, still there were some people who “engaged buffoons to arrange their devilish merrymaking games, roar with tambourines, clap hands and dance at fairs, crossroads and in the streets”.

A break-through phenomenon was the appearance of the first court theater in 1672. Originally the theatre company consisted of dwellers of the German Settlement, and later included Russian actors from the lower middle class and scribes. All the roles were performed by men only. The plays were mostly dedicated to legendary and historical plots as well as biblical stories. Secular comedies came to be as well, such as Comedy on Tamerlane, Comedy on Bacchus with Venus. Ballet performances were also staged. After the death of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich the theater ceased to exist.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Culture Russian History Russian Theater   

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