A History of the Theatre Laboratory  book cover
1st Edition

A History of the Theatre Laboratory

ISBN 9781138680005
Published November 5, 2018 by Routledge
236 Pages

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Book Description

The term ‘theatre laboratory’ has entered the regular lexicon of theatre artists, producers, scholars and critics alike, yet use of the term is far from unified, often operating as an catch-all for a web of intertwining practices, territories, pedagogies and ideologies. Russian theatre, however, has seen a clear emergence of laboratory practice that can be divided into two distinct organisational structures: the studio and the masterskaya (artisanal guild).

By assessing these structures, Bryan Brown offers two archetypes of group organisation that can be applied across the arts and sciences, and reveals a complex history of the laboratory’s characteristics and functions that support the term’s use in theatre.

This book’s discursive, historical approach has been informed substantially by contemporary practice, through interviews with and examinations of practitioners including Slava Polunin, Anatoli Vassiliev, Sergei Zhenovach and Dmitry Krymov.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Transliteration & Translation





1 An Organisational History

2 What’s in a Name

3 Why Russia

4 Retracing the Name

The Prototype

5 The Skete

The Studio

6 From Study to Studio

7 The Studio in Visual Art: Cobra, a Collective Vitality

8 The Studio in Science: the Copenhagen Spirit

9 The Studio in Russian Theatre:

10 Creating a Commune: the First Studio’s Theatre-Obshchina

11 Oases of Curiosity: the Holidays of Slava Polunin

12 A New Camaraderie in Faith: the Theatre Art Studio

13 For the Sake of What: the Studio as Laboratory of Communion

The Masterskaya

14 From Workshop to Masterskaya

15 The Masterskaya in Visual Art: Rembrandt, the Master as Auteur

16 The Masterskaya in Science: Thomas Edison and the Contradictory Positions of his

Invention Factory

17 The Masterskaya in Russian Theatre:

18 The Visionary Authority of Vsevolod Meyerhold

19 I Need Them to Fear Me: Anatoli Vassiliev and the School of Dramatic Art

20 The Ecstasy of Togetherness: the Laboratory of Dmitry Krymov

21 For the Sake of What? The Masterskaya as Laboratory of Authority


22 The Value of a Theatre Laboratory

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Bryan Brown is an artist-scholar, currently a Lecturer at the University of Exeter and co-director of visual theatre company ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory). Recent writing includes "Educating the Director", a co-authored, extended chapter on Meyerhold for The Great European Stage Directors Vol. 2.