ABOUT THIS BOOK
This collection of theater writings by the Russian modernist Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky brings his powerful, wildly imaginative vision of theater to an English-language audience for the first time. The centerpiece is his play That Third Guy (1937), a farce written at the onset of the Stalinist Terror and never performed. Its plot builds on Alexander Pushkin's poem "Cleopatra," while parodying the themes of Eros and empire in the Cleopatra tales of two writers Krzhizhanovsky adored: Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. In a chilling echo of the Soviet 1930s, Rome here is a police state, and the Third Guy (a very bad poet) finds himself in its dragnet. As he scrambles to escape his fate, the end of the Roman Republic thunders on offstage.
The volume also features selections from Krzhizhanovsky's compelling and idiosyncratic essays on Shakespeare, Pushkin, Shaw, and the philosophy of theater. Professionally, he worked with director Alexander Tairov at the Moscow Kamerny Theater, and his original philosophy of the stage bears comparison with the great theater theorists of the twentieth century. In these writings, he reflects on the space and time of the theater, the resonance of language onstage, the experience of the actor, and the relationship between the theater and the everyday. Commentary by Alisa Ballard Lin and Caryl Emerson contextualizes Krzhizhanovsky's writings.