Avant-Garde / Constructivist Cover
‘Theatres and Shows’ was a listings guide published as a supplement to ‘Art Life’, which is available here. The cover is an eye-catching graphic photo-montage advertising the Leningrad Satirical Theatre’s second season of productions. The design is a collage of contrasting fonts, with the elemental shapes suggesting inclusion (the large black amost circular border), showing the members of the group as a united collective. The bisecting arrow-shaped message implies focus on the subject, whatever it may be. The style of the title, ‘Theatres and Shows’ is very simple – the stencil-like font is similar to that used for marking cargo crates – a non-traditional aesthetic, promising non-traditional theatre.
Leningrad Satirical Theatre
When this listings guide was published, the Leningrad Satirical Theatre was housed elsewhere, but in 1929 the theatre would be given a permanent home in the former ‘Nevsky Farce’ theatre building on Nevsky Prospekt which was occupied on the ground floor by the famous Eliseevsky shop.
The theatre was run by D. G. Gutman, the Head Director, (his is the highest portrait in the design on the cover) and B. A. Shakhet, a former Red Army soldier, who is shown second from the right. Gutman was also Director of the Moscow Satirical Theatre.
Shakhet had previously been a director in a ‘Blue Blouse’ theatre troupe, which specialised in experimental avant-garde political and social performances. The ‘Blue Blouse’ troupes were wound up in 1927 – their shows were considered unsuitable for the working classes – and more controllable and conformist troupes such as TRAM (Theatre of Young Workers) were established. There is more in the QED collection about TRAM – click here. Shakhet then transferred to the Leningrad Satirical Theatre and subsequently went to work in the Moscow Circus as a director.
The theatre is still operating today, as the ‘Comedy Theatre’, at the same address on Nevsky Proepekt.