VERA KOMISSARŽEVSKAJA MEETS ELEONORA DUSE. The ‘Joan of Arc’ of the Russian scene and the ‘Divina’ of Italian theatre

The ‘Joan of Arc’ of the Russian scene and the ‘Divina’ of Italian theatre

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
( proposed for the period of 2-8 March 2015 )


Maria Ida Biggi
Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia and Director of the “Centro Studi per la Ricerca documentale sul Teatro e il Melodramma europeo” (Study Centre for Documentary Research into European Theatre and Opera), Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice.

Donatella Gavrilovich
Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata” and Director of the publishing series “Arti dello Spettacolo/Performing Arts”.

The 150th birth anniversary of the Russian actress Vera Fëdorovna Komissarževskaja (27 October (8 November) 1864 – 10 (23) February 1910) will be celebrated by organizing an international conference to elaborate and deepen the research upon this important figure of the Russian theatre of the turn of the 20th Century.

Her constant research into new forms of expression – which brought great achievements in acting and in stage directing – her particular technique of interiority in the creation of her roles, her social and political engagement, her modern activity as founder, manager and artistic director of her own theatre in Saint Petersburg, her opposition to Stanislavskij’s monopoly and her influence on actors such as Vachtangov and Michail Čechov are only a few examples of research topics that deserve further investigation.

Famously called the ‘Joan of Arc’ of the Russian theatre scene, Komissarževskaja is renowned in the western world simply as the ‘little Duse’ since she has been only superficially compared to the Italian actress in a very reductive manner. The aim of the conference is to further explore the two actresses in relation to their art, technique and influence on the world stage.

The two met during Eleonora Duse’s tour in Russia (2-31 December 1896): Komissarževskaja first saw her on stage at the Aleksandrinskij Theatre of Saint Petersburg, while attending the staging of Alexandre Dumas’ La dame aux camellias and Sudermann’s Heimat (Magda), and later met the Italian actress in person.

In this perspective, we eagerly invite interdisciplinary contributions on the following research themes:

• The theatrical, social and political activities of Vera Komissarževskaja;
• Vera Komissarževskaja’s ‘theatre of interiority’;
• The relations of Vera Komissarževskaja with theatre directors of her time (Arbatov, Karpov, Mejerchol’d, Stanislavskij etc.);
• Vera Komissarževskaja’s research of new forms of artistic expression and her influence on Russian Soviet actors of her time (Vachtangov and Michail Čechov);
• Relations to authors such as Anton Čechov, Gor’kij, the young playwrights of the Znanie company and the relative stage productions;
• Vera Komissarževskaja’s collaboration with Symbolist poets and artists and the creation of productions based on her artistic and directorial concept;
• The importance of music, timing and rhythm in Vera Komissarževskaja’s acting;
• Vera Komissarževskaja’s tour in the United States of America;
• The American and Russian critics on Eleonora Duse;
• The influence of Eleonora Duse on Russian theatre.

The comparison between Vera Komissarževskaja and Eleonora Duse is the central and important theme for the main discussion of these study days:

• Repertoires and expressive forms;
• Theatre enterprises and artistic directions;
• Social and political commitments;
• Hysteria and mysticism.

The conference will be held in Italian, English and French.
We kindly ask that you submit an abstract of no more than 300 words (in Italian, English or French) and brief curriculum vitae of about 200 words to teatromelodramma@cini.it by September 30th, 2014.


Download here the Call for Papers in RUSSIAN