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Looking at Meyerhold's Unseen Theatre

Skinner, Amy


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Dr Amy Skinner
Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Practice


Jonathan Pitches

Stefan Aquilina


This essay addresses the importance of visual spectatorship in Meyerhold’s theatre. By identifying and exploring the ‘modes of looking’ suggested by production examples from the late 1920s and 1930s, it considers the relationship between how scenographic structures invite audiences to look and how looking can become a profoundly ideological act, particularly within the context of a totalitarian state. The examples analysed in this chapter come from a specific subset of Meyerhold’s productions; those that were cancelled prior to their first performance. Despite often being neglected in Meyerhold scholarship, these ‘unseen’ works provide an illuminating starting point to consider the nature of looking. This essay considers the different models of looking found in two of Meyerhold’s unseen productions: I Want a Baby (1927-1930) and One Life (1936-7). It begins with a survey of Meyerhold’s unseen works, establishing their status in his oeuvre. The two productions are then explored in detail, using a focus on Meyerhold’s scenographic approaches as a way to identify the modes of looking suggested in each project: in I Want a Baby, the spectator is asked to ‘look through’ the production; whereas in One Life, an emphasis on flat surfaces forces the viewer to ‘look at’ the stage. The essay concludes by returning to the question of unseen productions, considering their role and value in the study of historical theatre practice.


Skinner, A. (2022). Looking at Meyerhold's Unseen Theatre. In J. Pitches, & S. Aquilina (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Vsevolod Meyerhold (80-98). London: Routledge.

Online Publication Date Nov 9, 2022
Publication Date Nov 9, 2022
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 10, 2024
Publisher Routledge
Pages 80-98
Series Title Routledge Companions
Book Title The Routledge Companion to Vsevolod Meyerhold
ISBN 9781000764499; 9780367627843
Public URL


Accepted manuscript (636 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2022 The author.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Companion to Vsevolod Meyerhold on 9th November 2022, available online:

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