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 Vsevolod Meyerhold


Born:   9 February [O.S. 28 January] 1874
Deceased:   2 February 1940

Stage director, actor and teacher

      

Vsevolod Emilevich Meyerhold (his real name was Karl Casimir Theodor Meyergold) was born (on January 28) on February 9, 1874 into a Russified German family in Penza. Karl was brought up along with five brothers and two sisters. Their mother brought theatre home to the children. Eventually, Karl and his brothers played in amateur theatricals. 

Karl finished grammar school later, because he held back three times. At the age of 21 years he was baptized and took the name of Vsevolod; he renounced Prussian citizenship and got the Russian passport with the surname of Meyerhold, as transliterated into Russian. In 1896 he got married to his childhood girlfriend Olga Munt. 

Vsevolod studied in the Theatre and Music School of the Moscow Philharmonic Society in the course of Nemirovich-Danchenko. Upon graduation he joined the company of the newly founded Moscow Art Theatre. Meyerhold played a lot of big roles in plays by Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, and Anton Chekhov

In 1902 he made his debut as a stage director. From then on he staged a great number of plays jointly with Stanislavsky and Komissarzhevskaya. After the October Revolution of 1917 Vsevolod Meyerhold became one of the most active creators of the new Soviet theater. He was the first one among eminent theater figures to join the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks). 

He headed Training Courses for Stage Play and Acting School. He became friends with the outstanding poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and staged his Mystery Bouffe play in Petrograd (St. Petersburg). 
In autumn 1921 Zinaida Reich joined Meyerhold’s studio and the stage director fell in love with her at first sight, though he was twenty years older than her. They got married and Meyerhold adopted her children by her previous marriage to Sergey Yesenin

Meyerhold regularly went abroad, where he toured with the theatre or underwent medical treatment. He visited Germany, France, England, Italy, and Czechoslovakia. In autumn 1928 he asked for the theater’s permit to tour in Germany and France for a year. Lunacharsky got a suspicion that Meyerhold was going to leave the Soviet Union. Thus, Meyerhold was subjected to persecution. For some time he was supported by Stanislavsky, but his death cut this support short.
In 1939 Vseveolod Meyerhold was arrested on charge of his alleged participation in anti-Soviet activity back in 1922. 
On February 2, 1940 Vsevolod Meyerhold was shot dead in Moscow. The great stage director was rehabilitated in 1955.


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