School for Citizens


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Theatre and Civil Society in Imperial Russia

Murray Frame

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This book offers a new perspective on the history of theatre in imperial Russia, focusing on the rise and regulation of the theatre industry and on the development of the idea of theatre. Murray Frame analyzes for the first time the impact of Russia’s theatre on society and politics from the end of the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century.
The book highlights the roles of the state and the intelligentsia, both of which perceived theatre’s powerful potential as a means of education. But while the state promoted theatre-going as an essential accoutrement of civilization and respectability, the intelligentsia saw in theater the opportunity to articulate alternative social and political ideas. The author explores the contributions of civil society and theatre culture to one another as Russian theater gained increasingly wide respect, and along the way draws lively portraits of the important actors, patrons, writers, and critics, as well as the theatres that employed and entertained them.

Murray Frame is lecturer in the department of history at University of Dundee, Scotland.

"Frame has demonstrated in fascinating detail how essential theatre was to the idea of progress in Russia, and he had carefully distinguished its successes in that regard from its failures. His use of archival and journalistic sources is exemplary, churning up a great deal of information to support the long-held belief that the Russian theatre was inextricably bound to social betterment. This book confirms the nineteenth century as a rewarding field for the study of Russian theatre."—Laurence Senelick, The Russian Review

"A welcome and much-needed addition to the scholarly literature on tsarist culture generally and tsarist theatre specifically. . . . Frame's book will not disappoint readers interested in theatre or cultural history or imperial Russia."—Andrew A. Gentes, Canadian Journal of History

School for Citizens succeeds in bringing Russian theatre to life in a multi-dimensional, compelling and pithy monograph … a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of theatre in Russia and the broader changes taking place in Russian society over the course of the long nineteenth century.” - Jeffrey Veidlinger, Seer, 87, 1

ISBN: 9780300111019
Publication Date: September 20, 2006
336 pages, 234 x 156156
20 b/w illus.