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June 28, 2017

Lost Marvels of Revolution-Era Russian Theater: Haunting Photographs From a 1908 Fantasy Play Performed in Moscow

The Blue Bird is a 1908 play by Belgian playwright and poet Maurice Maeterlinck. It premiered on 30 September 1908 at Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre, and was presented on Broadway in 1910. The play has been adapted for several films and a TV series.

The story is about a girl called Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl seeking happiness, represented by The Blue Bird of Happiness, aided by the good fairy BĂ©rylune.

The photographs of the actors are all that remain of this 1908 premiere of Maeterlinck’s Blue Bird. A descriptive play-by-play of the performance can be found in the 1920 book The Russian Theater Under the Revolution by Oliver Sayler, but all other images of this art noveau-inspired production have been lost to time.

According to historians well versed on the Moscow Art Theatre, which at the time was considered one of the most vital dramatic arts communities in the world, anything connected with the 1908 production was destroyed once WWI commenced in 1914, with the exception of these photographs. Despite their age and lack of color, they are remarkably vivid. While they are all stunning, the images of actress Maria Germanova (who played the mythical fairy in The Blue Bird and is best known for her role in the silent film based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel Ana Karenina) are particularly arresting.

(via Dangerous Minds)



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