Nikolai Nikolayevich Evreinov was from birth immersed in the cultural graces of the aristocratic St. Petersburg family into which he was born on February 26, 1879. His love for the theater began in his childhood, which saw his first attempts at directing, staging, and writing. His versatility, too, was apparent early. In 1901, he was graduated from the Imperial Law Institute and embarked on a civil service career. At the same time, he developed his musical talents under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and took a degree at the conservatory. Socially, he impressed others by his interests in and knowledge of art and by his sophisticated humor and improvisations. He took his government service in St. Petersburg lightly, devoting his energies to working out new forms for the stage. During the 1907-1908 season, he started directing at the St. Petersburg Starinnyi Teatr (Theater of Antiquity), where he began to apply his theories. His overriding interest in the theater soon led him to give up his legal work altogether.
In 1908, Evreinov replaced Meyerhold at the Kommissarzhevskaya Theater. Evreinov’s insistence on “theatricalization,” however, clashed with the conventions of the Kommissarzhevskaya, and he searched for a more suitable niche. This he found in 1910, when he took over as regisseur of Krivoye Zerkalo (The Crooked Mirror), a theater of “small forms” that was not imperially subsidized and was open to experimentation and improvisation. The position as head regisseur combined the duties of director, business manager, stage manager, and general overseer, so that he had a completely free hand in determining the course of a production. He remained at The Crooked Mirror until the Revolution, in 1917, and his activity...
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