Vsevolod Meyerhold

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Date: 1874- 1940

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Theatre


Artist: Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874 - 1940): Russian theater director

Confronting Bodies: Russian/Soviet Union government under Joseph Stalin and the French government

Dates of Action: Late 1870s - early 1940s

Location: The Soviet Union (particularly Russia) and France

Description of Artwork: For Meyerhold's entire career as a theater director, he faced censorship and bans on almost every one of his projects.

The Incident: After years of censorship and bans on his plays, in the 1930's Meyerhold was finally given permission to take his theater company on tour to Germany and France. Despite being granted permission to perform, his works continued to be criticized, banned and attacked. In Paris, Meyerhold's two works about revolution - Tretiakov's Roar, China! and Ilia Selvinskii's The Second Army Commander - were banned by the French government. And, his reworking of Gogol's The Government Inspector provoked angry demonstrations from the Russian people. Then, when Meyerhold applied to the Soviet authorities for permission to take his company on a tour of the United States, he was rejected.

Results of Incident: By the 1930's he was hated by the Soviet country and the object of attack. In 1938, his wife and star actress, Zinaida Raikh, was stabbed to death through the eyes by unknown but probably officially approved government assailants. Then, in 1940, Meyerhold was shot and killed. Today, many claim his influence remains the invisible underpinning of western theater.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.