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Anglo-Russian Research Network Reading Group

Claire Warden photo.jpg

Translation and Travel: Rediscovering the Lost Women of Anglo-Russian Theatre. Introduced by Claire Warden (Loughborough University).

The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its spring reading group at 5:00pm on Friday 22 February at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury (www.pushkinhouse.org). This session will look at the intersections between British and Russian theatre through the work of some ‘lost’ women translators. The discussion will be led by Dr Claire Warden, Senior Lecturer in English and Drama at Loughborough University.

Claire writes: ‘Many British theatre makers travelled to Russia during the early to mid twentieth century, bringing back to Britain a range of interesting techniques and aesthetics. Their transnational experiences and subsequent practices, often infused with the ideas of the Russian stage, mark an interesting example of British avant-garde theatre and a challenge to the perceived dominance of realism or escapist music hall. However, as I conducted this work I was struck by the lack of female voices. Subsequent projects have sought to balance this. During this reading group we will examine the translation work of Elisaveta Fen, Christopher St John and Maria Potapenko (the latter two in conjunction with the women’s suffrage-supporting theatre company The Pioneer Players) in order to ask a range of questions about the fraught yet fruitful relationship between the Russian and British stage, the positioning of translators in this transnational exchange, and the importance of this Russophilia in challenging established parochial and/or patriarchal narratives of British theatre historiography.’

Biography: Claire Warden is Senior Lecturer in English and Drama at Loughborough University. She is the author of three monographs, including the British Academy-funded Migrating Modernist Performance: British Theatrical Travels through Russia (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016). The research for this book won the 2014 Society for Theatre Research Anthony Denning Award. In an attempt to prove the fascinating links between Russian and British theatre, she has written articles on Basil Dean (Theatre Survey 2013) and Hubert Griffith (Comparative Drama 2015). She also writes on Russian theatre more generally, co-writing a chapter (with Jonathan Pitches) on Theodore Komisarjevsky for the Great European Stage Directors series, volume 3: Copeau, Komisarjevsky, Guthrie (Bloomsbury 2018), and writing a chapter on Alexander Tairov for Amy Skinner’s forthcoming Russian Theatre in Practice: A Handbook for Directors (Methuen 2019).

The Anglo-Russian Research Network organises termly reading groups for those interested in the interactions between British and Russian culture and politics in the period 1880-1950. These are informal events with plenty of discussion and wine, and are open to all. You can read more about the reading group and listen to podcasts https://anglorussiannetwork.wordpress.com/reading-groups/]. If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you could let Rebecca Beasley (rebecca.beasley@ell.ox.ac.uk) and/ or Matthew Taunton (M.Taunton@uea.ac.uk) know. The discussion will finish at 7, and anyone available is very welcome to join us for dinner nearby.

Readings for 22 February

Please download readings 2 and 3 from the Anglo-Russian Research Network website, using the password ‘ARRN022019’, at https://anglorussiannetwork.wordpress.com/reading-groups/

1. The first piece of reading is Christopher St John’s and Maria Potapenko’s translation of Nikolai Evreinov’s The Theatre of the Soul. This can be downloaded from archive.org at:

https://archive.org/details/theatreofsoulmon00evreuoft/page/n5

2. The second reading is a review of the Pioneer Players’ production of The Theatre of the Soul, from The Times, 4 December 1915, p. 11.  

3. The third reading is Claire’s article on Elisaveta Fen, ‘“A Glimpse of Another Russia”: Elisaveta Fen’s Chekhov translations’, forthcoming in Theatre Survey.