Moscow: Chistaia pechat’, 1929. Single leaf, printed to recto and folded to form four panels. Measuring 17 × 51.5 cm. Lightly creased and rubbed; two columns of text struck through with a single line in blue ink; still about very good. Item #6336
An advertising leaflet or broadside with a list of Siniaia bluza (The Blue Blouse) groups performing in Moscow in 1929. The Blue Blouse was an experimental agitational theater troupe founded in 1923 at the Moscow School of Journalism. The founder, Boris Iuzhanin (1896-1962) was a journalist interested in a new genre of “live newspaper” a low-tech high entertainment alternative to the emerging radio. The name of the group derived from the work clothes, blue blouses, which the actors wore during the performance. As described by Lynn Mally in her book on amateur Soviet theater: “A performance typically opened with a parade of the “headlines,” followed by from eight to fifteen short vignettes on topics ranging from international affairs to local complaints about factory management. The actors amended their simple work clothes with exaggerated props to identify the role they were performing, such as a top hat for a capitalist or a large red pencil for a bureaucrat. Since the troupe did not need sophisticated stages or lighting, it could perform almost anywhere. In early 1920s Blue Blouse played in clubs, cafeterias, and factory floors throughout Moscow and Moscow province” (Revolutionary Acts: Amateur Theater and the Soviet State, 1917-1938). Always reflecting on current events with humor/satire, and containing an element of folk theater, the performances were tremendously popular with the audiences and cells of Blue Blouse multiplied, eventually operating all over the country.
This advertisement, most likely inserted into a popular publication, lists the repertory of six separate performing groups a “Base Group,” a “Music Hall Group,” “Main Group,” “Shockworker Group,” “Variete Show Group,” and “United Group”. Written in a humorous tone typical for Blue Blouse, the brochure also delineates the prices and terms of hire, including Moscow but also towns and villages outside the city. Although the groups were composed of untrained actors, they did receive some financial backing from the state, and were able to count major authors such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Nikolai Aseev, and Sergei Tretiakov among their skit writers. In addition to these, this leaflet also lists Arkhangel'skii, Kirsanov, Iuzhanin and many other lesser known writers. One of 2000 copies printed.