Federal State Institution of Culture

Russian State
Art Library

"Art to help the arts"

On 28 December, RSAL Opened ‘Theatrical Leniniana. A View from the 21st Century’, a Virtual Exhibition

Date: 22.01.2021


The exhibition is based on materials from the collections of the Russian State Art Library (RSAL)—photographs of performances, memoirs, and reviews. From the photographs of Moscow performances presented in this virtual exhibition, one can trace how over the century (from 1919 to 2019) the approach of playwrights, directors, and performers changed regarding the image of VI Lenin, the new theatrical forms that appeared, and how the circle of historical characters and events expanded, allowing the image of the leader of the revolution to be fully revealed.

In March 1936, a meeting was held at the People’s Commissariat of Education (Narkompros) of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, at which the country’s leading playwrights were asked to create plays about the revolution and its leader for the 20th anniversary of the October Revolution (the Bolshevik Revolution). In 1937, three plays were staged: On the Bank of the Neva by Konstantin Trenev at the Maly Theatre, Pravda by Aleksandr Korneichuk at the Revolution Theatre, and A Man with a Gun by Nikolai Pogodin at the Vakhtangov Theatre. These performances are considered to be the beginning of theatrical Leniniana, but there are also earlier known productions by amateur theatres where Lenin’s image appeared on stage.

The first mention in plays of the ideologue of the world revolution; the appearance of actors in the role of Vladimir Lenin on the professional stage; the performances of 1937, which laid the tradition for Boris Shchukin and Maxim Shtraukh to perform this role; the long-term replication of the canonical image; new interpretations of Lenin’s image performed by Oleg Yankovsky and Alexander Kalyagin and much more is shown in this virtual exhibition prepared by RSAL’s specialists. The virtual exhibition ‘Theatrical Leniniana. A View from the 21st Century’ can be found on the RSAL website: http://lenininart.tilda.ws/