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Evgeny Schwartz

Evgeny Schwartz

Evgeny Schwartz was a Soviet writer and playwright whose cult works include twenty-five plays and screenplays for three films. Evgeny Schwartz was born in Kazan, Russia, into a physician’s family. His father was Jewish, his mother Russian. In 1910 he studied law at Moscow University, where he also became involved in theater and poetry. Schwartz came from a middle-class background and gained his first theatrical experience as an actor in the Russian provinces. In post-Civil War Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Schwartz gained a reputation as a raconteur and wit and was the favorite impromptu entertainer at Maxim Gorky’s House of Artists, a gathering place for the leading creative figures in the city. He started writing children’s stories and puppet shows in 1925 and stuck to these politically “safe” genres throughout his career, sprinkling his work with occasional hints of dissent. Schwartz is considered one of the most original figures in 20th Century Russian Theatre. His most famous plays, “The Naked King” (1933), “The Shadow” (1940), and especially “The Dragon” (1943), are considered brilliant, imaginative satires of corruption and tyranny, disguised as fairy tales for adults. Communist critics detected their subversive intent and they were not widely performed in the Soviet Union until the late 1980’s. Schwartz died in Leningrad in 1958.

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