Scene Change – A Theatre Diary: Prague, Moscow, Leningrad

by Joanna Rotté

It was in April of 1991 that the delegation of 29 American theatre artists and educators had traveled to Eastern Europe to observe and experience the theatrical life of Prague, Moscow and Leningrad. Awaiting them was, of course, drama not confined to the stage. In Czechoslovakia the people, emerging from their Velvet Revolution, struggled fitfully to build a new state under a new president, Vaclav Havel, himself a man of the theatre. While in the Soviet Union, a society stumbled toward the precipice of collapse, and that snowy spring of 1991 saw a kind of rehearsal for momentous change that continues until this day. Among the delegation was Joanna Rotte - professor, working actor and director; her journal, faithfully kept, has become Scene Change. It is a book of words and images, for Rotte's observations are punctuated here by her own photographs. And it is a book that illuminates a theatre of tradition and innovation, describing in detail the many, varied theatre classes the author visited and the widely disparate performances she attended, from Josef Svoboda's "miraculous" Minotaurus at the Laterna Magika in Prague to the outrageous musical satire Good-bye, America!!!, a send-up of the communist propaganda of earlier times, at the Moscow Theatre for Young Spectators. The author's sharp eye for the brilliant and truly modern as well as for the stale and retrograde in theatre training, performance and production is equaled by her vivid description of cities in flux, the choking pollution and congestion of Prague, the soldiers, trucks and artillery that crowd the streets to Red Square, the mixture of hope, distrust and unease that is everywhere in Moscow and Leningrad. Inside thelegendary Russian theatres, houselights rise and dim, but outside, Joanna Rotte watches as millions unknowingly wait for a final curtain to fall.

Publisher: Limelight Editions

Format: Softcover

Page Count: 168

Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 inches

ISBN: 9780879101718


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