28/05/2014, by CLAS
Russian Play: The Naked King
For the third consecutive year, the hard work of undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies will culminate in the staging of a Russian-language theatre performance, which for 2014 will be Evgeny Shvarts’ Golyi Korol’ (The Naked King).
Shvarts began writing children’s literature during the 1920s, and in 1929 he embarked on a collaboration with the Leningrad Comedy Theatre, writing satirical plays based on the folk tales of Hans Christian Andersen. One of his early plays was Printsessa i svinopas (The Princess and the Swineherd), which was completed in 1934, but banned by the censor after only a few rehearsals due to its veiled critique of Stalin and the ‘cult of personality’. Although Shvarts’ fairy tale plays were banned under Stalin, some began to appear on the stage during the Thaw following the Soviet leader’s death in 1953. In 1960 the Sovremennik theatre-studio based in Moscow decided to stage Shvarts’ Printsessa i svinopas, under the new title Golyi korol’, in order to emphasize the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes on which the play was originally based. Golyi korol’ was unveiled in Leningrad and received glowing reviews from local critics, who assumed that the play had already been approved in Moscow. It hadn’t, however, and the furious Ministry of Culture punished the Sovremennik by evicting it from its lodgings. Despite this, Golyi korol’ survived thanks to its enormous popularity with the public.
Now over 50 years since the sell-out performances in Leningrad, Golyi korol’ will be staged at the University of Nottingham, making it the first ever staging of this play in Russian in the UK. Students have been working hard since September 2013 to perfect their lines, work on new theatre techniques and to conquer some interesting choreography, and are now excited to welcome everyone to what is set to be a vibrant, entertaining performance. Non-Russian speakers need not be afraid; there will be an English summary of the scenes, and we hope that the lively nature of this play makes it accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Golyi korol’ will run for three nights, on Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th June, and will be staged in the Trent Building’s Performing Arts Studio. Tickets are £2 NUS/ £3 general admission; doors open at 7 and the play begins at 7.15. We hope to see you there!
Olivia Hellewell (MA Translation Studies with Slovene)