Theater has long been at the center of political struggle in Russia. The theatricalization of life was one of the key aims of the Russian avant-garde, which embraced the 1917 revolution in part because it promised to transform everyday life into living theater. With the advent of socialist realism in the 1930s, Stalin turned theater into an instrument of state propaganda, but restrictions loosened again in the period of late socialism, from the 1960s to the 1980s, at which time theater acquired a near sacred status in Soviet culture.
Will the actor driving this car, talking to another actor via Bluetooth, turn too fast and hit a jogger? Is that man on the street corner in the play? Are these people exercising under FDR drive in the play? Is that horrible smell in the play? Am I in the play?
It struck me on starting the first page of Historical Miniatures that Mazen had terribly misjudged my Arabic ability. I was ready for a challenge, but this was real literature, wildly above my level of comprehension.