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Entries / Miniatures Theatres (entry)

Miniatures Theatres (entry)

Categories / Art/Music, Theatre/Theaters, Concert Organizations
Categories / Art/Music, Theatre/Stage, Cabaret, Variety Shows

MINIATURES THEATRES, variety theatres with repertoires embracing all types and genres of theatrical art and concerts. In St. Petersburg, they emerged as clubs and theatre-cabarets. The most well-known one was the Krivoe Zerkalo (Distorting Mirror), which in 1910 was reorganised into the miniatures theatre; it gave performances every night and specialized mainly in parodies (located first at 90 Ekaterininsky Canal Embankment, in a basement at 13 Italyanskaya Street from 1924, and in a basement at 12 Karavannaya Street since 1927). The theatre boasted a stock company of professional actors of universal performance skills, parodied events and genres of the whole spectrum of culture, and produced plays by F. Sologub, L.N. Andreev, G. B. Shaw among others. After October 1917, the repertoire encompassed mainly small comedies that often included pantomime, satiric miniatures, and revivals of pre-revolutionary plays. Miniatures theatres of another type proliferated during the World War I years of 1914-18, evolving from former chantan cafes (like Pavillon de Paris, 12 Sadovaya Street) and former farce theatres (like the Theatre of Valentina Lin, at 56 Nevsky Prospect from 1912, and 100 Nevsky Prospect from 1914). Some troupes gradually turned into theatres of miniatures, accumulating and reworking their experience of Guignol shows, farce, melodrama, revue, and splitting up the structure of the performance by combining various acts and episodes. One such troupe was the Liteiny Theatre (founded 1909, Mozaika (Mosaic) Theatre from 1912, Liteiny Intimate Theatre 1913, at 51 Liteiny Avenue). Other famous pre-revolutionary theatres are the Intimate Theatre of B.S. Nevolin (1915-17, 41 Kryukova Canal Embankment) and the Troitsky Theatre (The Theatre of Miniatures, Troitsky Theatre of Miniatures, 1911-20, 18 Troitskaya Street). On the eve of the October Revolution of 1917, there were over 100 miniatures theatres in Petrograd, the majority of which were commercial. The core of their repertoire was formed by the works of A.T. Averchenko, N.A. Teffi, V. A. Azov (Ashkenazi), and others. After October 1917, the miniatures theatres were exploited by agitational and propaganda establishments for politically urgent and poster-like theatres of revolutionary satire ("terevsat"), such as Sinyaya Bluza ("blue blouze") (up to the beginning of the 1930s), and "live newspapers," with their performances combining pathetic and satirical elements. The analogue of theatres of revolutionary satire in Petrograd was the Volnaya Komedia (Free Comedy) - originally, the theatre of pamphlets and political satires - established by masters of pre-revolutionary Miniatures Theatres N.V. Petrov, N.N. Evreinov, and Y.P. Annenkov in the basement of the former Petit-Palace (at 13 Italyanskaya Street from 1920; at the former Pavillion de Paris from 1921), which used the methods of harlequinade, lubok, pantomime, musical comedy, and minidrama. With the dawning of the age of the New Economic Policy and the new wave of theatrical commercial initiative, miniatures theatres emerged in Petrograd, such as the all-night cabaret Balaganchik founded by the Free Comedy (1921-24). The private non-repertory company of the Free Theatre (1922-28, 72 Nevsky Prospect), the Satire Theatre of D. G. Gutman, which laid the foundation of the future Comedy Theatre, early Music Hall performances, and other such companies can also be considered miniatures theatres. An attempt to revive miniatures theatres led to the opening of the Variety Theatre, which inherited the latest address and part of the Distorting Mirror's troupe (1930-33), the Miniatures Theatres under the guidance of I.O. Dunaevsky and Gutman (1937-38, 13 Italyanskaya Street), and a few others. The campaign against satire in the 1930s robbed the art of miniatures of its vitality, and the Variety Theatre of miniatures, founded in 1939 (see A.I. Raykin), is the only remaining professional miniatures theatre in St. Petersburg.

References: Уварова Е. Д. Эстрадный театр: миниатюры, обозрения, мюзик-холлы (1917-1945). М., 1983; Тихвинская Л. И. Кабаре и театры миниатюр в России, 1908-1917. М., 1995.

A. A. Kirillov.

Andreev Leonid Nikolaevich
Annenkov Yury Pavlovich
Ashkinazi Vladimir Alexandrovich (pseudonym V. Azov)
Averchenko Arkady Timofeevich
Dunaevsky Isaak Osipovich
Evreinov Nikolay Nikolaevich
Gutman David Grigorievich
Nevolin B.S.
Petrov Nikolay Vasilievich
Raykin Arkady Isaakovich
Shaw George Bernard
Sologub Fedor (real name Teternikov Fedor Kuzmich)
Teffi Nadezhda Alexandrovna

Griboedova Canal Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 90
Italyanskaya Street/Saint Petersburg, city, house 13
Karavannaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 12
Kryukova Canal Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 41
Liteiny Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 51
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city, house 56
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city, house 72
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city, house 100
Rubinsteina St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 18
Sadovaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 12

Уварова Е. Д. Эстрадный театр: миниатюры, обозрения, мюзик-холлы (1917-1945). М., 1983
Тихвинская Л. И. Кабаре и театры миниатюр в России, 1908-1917. М., 1995

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Show-Booth, Cabaret Theatre
Music Hall