New Russian Drama: An Anthology

Columbia Univ. (Russian Library). Aug. 2019. 504p. ed. by ed. by Maksim Hanukai & Susanna Weygandt. notes. ISBN. 9780231185103. $50; pap. ISBN 9780231185110. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231545846. DRAMA
Editors Hanukai (Russian, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) and Weygandt (Russian, St. Louis Univ.) present ten plays by Russian playwrights chosen to represent the New Russian Drama movement, which, according to the editors, originated largely in provincial festivals with performances often in bare-walled basements. The plays are characterized by profane language, fragmentary plots, minimal character development, and hypernaturalistic portrayals of sex and violence. The pieces presented here vary in length; one is even shorter than this review. September.doc consists mainly of numbered paragraphs and lists; Playing the Victim presumably serves as the follow-up to a crime; while Project “Swan” is about a poetic test that migrants must pass to become citizens. The editors emphasize the connection between politics and theater in Russia, noting that the current political climate, particularly the regime of Vladimir Putin, is a threat to theater making.
VERDICT Extensive coverage of controversial topics such as sex, drug use, and violence could offend those with a general interest in drama. Moreover, the experimental nature of some of these works will be an obstacle for many readers. Recommended for scholars, theater makers, and readers with a serious interest in world theater.

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