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Siniaia bluza: zhivaia universal’naia gazeta kul’totdela MGSPS. Vypusk desiatyi [Blue blouse: live universal newspaper of the cultural division of MGSPS (Moscow City Soviet of Professional Unions)], issue no. 10. Anti-Religion Issue.

Moscow: Izdatel'stvo MGSPS “Trud i kniga", 1925. Octavo (22.5 × 15 cm). Original staple-stitched pictorial wrappers with constructivist cover design by Elena Semenova; 62, [1] pp. With photomontage illustrations throughout. Owner inscription to title; wrappers beginning to detach at head of spine; else very good.

Single issue (no. 10) of this periodical by “Siniaia bluza” (Blue blouse), 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 and 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.

To help the spread of the Blue Blouse, a periodical was published irregularly 1924–1928 (publishing 80 issues in total), containing librettos for current skits, suggestions for staging, set and costume designs. The individual librettos were published anonymously until 1926, although regular contributors included the best satirists and leftist writers of the day such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Nikolai Aseev, and Sergei Tretiakov. Osip Brik promoted the “live newspapers” in his theoretical articles in LEF and the constructivist artist Elena Semenova created some of the cover design for the publication. The various cells were free to use the skits as inspiration for writing their own content or to restage them verbatim. The publication typically closed with original musical scores. Because of their decentralized, spontaneous nature and close ties to left art the Blue Blouse troupes eventually went out of favor with the state in the early 1930s. Print runs varied; in this case, one of 10000 copies. This issue contains some anti-religious skits and ditties with titles such as “Believer Sashka and godless Mashka.” Not in Getty. KVK and OCLC show scattered issues at Amherst (only for 1928), NYPL, Toronto (only no. 61/62), the British Library, and Zurich.

Book ID: P6332

Price: $400.00