Mikhail Bulgakov

Plays by Mikhail Bulgakov

audio The Master and Margarita

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A full-cast audio dramatization of Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic novel. Satan and his retinue, including a seven foot tall skinny fellow with a pince-nez , an obnoxious cigar smoking black cat and a beautiful naked vampire visit Moscow in the 1920s, taking with them chaos and insanity where ever they go.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring David Catlin, Thomas Cox, Lawrence DiStasi, Christine Dunford, Laura Eason, Joy Gregory, Doug Hara, David Kersnar, Mariann Mayberry, Joey Slotnick, Phillip Smith and Andrew White.

Featuring: David Catlin, Thomas Cox, Lawrence DiStasi, Christine Dunford, Laura Eason, Joy Gregory, Doug Hara, David Kersnar, Mariann Mayberry, Joey Slotnick, Phillip Smith, Andrew White

The White Guard (trans. Upton)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

See? All we need is... a map and... some kind of plan.

This overcoat is neutral darling, neither Bolshevik nor Menshevik. Just essence of Prole.

In Kiev during the Russian Civil War, the Turbin household is sanctuary to a ragtag, close-knit crowd presided over by the beautiful Lena. As her brothers prepare to fight for the White Guard, friends charge in from the riotous streets amidst an atmosphere of heady chaos, quaffing vodka, keeling over, declaiming, taking baths, playing guitar and falling in love. But the new regime is poised and in its brutal triumph lies destruction for the Turbins and their world.

And those are the real enemies we face, deep in the shadows. This modern man with no name, no past, no love. This desperate hate-filled man born of loneliness and frustration. This man with nothing to be proud of, nothing he is part of...

Andrew Upton's version of Mikhail Bulgakov's The White Guard premiered at the National Theatre, London, in March 2010.

Picture of Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev in 1891. A playwright and a novelist he was the son of a professor of theology. Bulgakov studied medicine at the University of Kiev and practised with the Red Cross before turning to writing in 1920. The following year he moved to Moscow and became a journalist, working for a number of revolutionary papers.

In 1924 his story The Diaboliad was published, followed a year later by the first two parts of Belaya Gvardia (The White Guard). An invitation from the Moscow Art Theatre to turn this into a play was the prelude to all manner of difficulties with the Central Repertory Committee because of the sympathetic light in which officers of the White army were portrayed. Revisions, including a change of title to Dni Turbinykh (Days of the Turbins) did little to disarm criticism, and permission was granted for performance only by the Art Theatre. The production opened in 1926 but was removed from the repertoire in 1929 at the same time as rehearsals were discontinued for Beg (Flight); Zoykina Kvartira (Madame Zoyka or Zoya's Apartment) and Bagrovy Ostrov (Crimson Island) were taken off at respectively the Vakhtangov and Kamerny theatres.

When Molière (originally Kabala Svyatosh) was also banned, Bulgakov wrote a letter of protest to the Soviet government. This provoked the personal intervention on his behalf of Stalin, who approved The White Guard on the grounds that it showed Bolshevism triumphing over a powerful and intelligent opposition. The production returned to the Art Theatre stage and remained in the repertoire until the sets were accidentally destroyed in 1941.

Though much of his work was still banned, Bulgakov was able to work at the Art Theatre as an assistant director. He adapted Gogol's Myortvye Dushi (Dead Souls) for the stage in 1932 and turned it into a film script in 1934. At the same time he began work on a fantastical and influential novel, Master I Margarita (The Master and Margarita), which was banned, later filmed, and staged in 1977 by Lyubimov, and a biography of Molière. His play on the French actor/playwright had been released for performance but rehearsals continued from 1932 until 1936, when the production ran for only three weeks at the Art Theatre.

Bulgakov left to work at the Bolshoi and began another novel, Black Snow (originally known as Tetralnyi Roman). This 'theatrical novel' catalogues the experiences of a young playwright suffering from the vagaries of a world-renowned director who has a 'method', a thin disguise for Stanislavsky.

Bulgakov's last years saw further disillusion, with abandoned productions of Posledniye Dni (The Last Days) and Ivan Vasil'evich in 1936, and Batum, about the young Stalin, in 1939. He did complete a number of opera libretti but fell ill with a kidney disease in 1939 and died the following year. He was said to have written over 20 plays but several have been lost. Others include Adam i Eva (Adam and Eve, written 1931) and Blazhenstvo (Bliss, written 1934).