Michael Craig – books

Journey to Ogasawara

In September 2005 we traveled from Moscow to Japan to make a film about the Russian futurist, poet and artist, David Burliuk, also known as the Father of Russian Futurism. The film was one of a six part series about the Russian Avant-garde. The visit involved a journey to Ogasawara for several days. This book is an account of our voyage to this island in the Pacific Ocean.

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Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde

Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde complements the series of six films made by Michael Craig and Copernicus Films about the Russian Avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Fully illustrated including stills from most of the films, it is not only an account or explanation but also an introduction or to be more specific an “encounter” with this exciting phenomenon. The title reflects an active relationship: firstly through the experience of living in Moscow for many years, plus a direct encounter with the buildings, the architecture and the very territory in which much of the avant-garde arose and to some extent still exists.

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The Russian Theatre Film Series

The Russian Theatre Film Series is an account of this arts documentary series with all its pitfalls, successes, limitations and achievements. The three films which have so far been completed are “Meyerhold, Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde”, “Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre” and “Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre”. This book is part of the overall project – The Russian Theatre Film Series and is a milestone and a marker in this developing project. It is also a commentary on what it means to make an independent arts documentary film series in a foreign country namely Russia.

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First Drafts


fairground Booth

The first draft of two books now complete (more or less). Time for rewrites and editing. Both books about the Russian theatre. The 1st about the film series +Russian Theatre Documentary Series which includes 3 films so far completed Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde, Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre, Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre.

The second book is about Blok and Meyerhold’s production of The Fairground Booth in 1906. These books will form part of the film series and give rise to other films as well.

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“The Fairground Booth” and “Petrushka”

the-kiss-1916(1)This post is a fragment from a chapter of the book which will be published some time next year. The context is a comparison between the ballet “Petrushka” and “The Fairground Booth”. Both share roots in the Russian fairground and the figures of the commedia dell’arte. To understand a play like The Fairground Booth which has no plot, no characters, no real sense of forward movement or natural time and broke from the traditions of realism and naturalism, requires an approach to Russian culture which moves beyond its surface reflections. When, as Bakhtin states, Dostoevsky’s work embodies elements of carnival, (something which is not immediately associated with Dostoevsky), then it becomes clear why it is possible to find clues to the meaning of “The Fairground Booth” in works of literature as various as “The Brothers Karamazov” and The ballet “Petrushka” and vise a versa. Continue reading

Posted in Alexander Blok, art, Meyerhold, Russia, Russian art, Russian Theatre, Russian Theatre film series, The Fairground Booth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Fairground Booth Book – New Chapter -News

fairground BoothFinishing one of the most difficult chapters of  The Fairground Book and researching the film simultaneously. The chapter concerns Blok and Meyerhold’s legacy and in particular the legacy of The Fairground Booth in Russian and world theatrical history. This is a difficult subject to tackle as it is all a question of interpretation and quite subjective although I have tried to use referenced argument to get my point across. However this is not the main thing to consider since the purpose of the book is to be an introduction to The Fairground Booth rather than a definitive interpretation so the approach has to be looser and maybe even a bit experimental to find a way into the material.

comeddie benois

Benois – Italian Comedy -1905

There is not much material to go on and very little can be found on this play and on Russian theatre generally so I have to rely on my own judgement. What happens is that The Fairground Booth is referenced and mentioned in various works, often in passing. Its never occurred to anybody that The Fairground Booth was a major turning point in Russian and world theatrical history.It didn’t exactly turn Stanislavsky’s method on its head but Blok and Meyerhold’s little “balagan” certainly brought down Stanislavsky’s fourth wall. The book will explore not just the play itself but the background and context in which the play was received and will be part of The Russian Documentary Film Series


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Dostoevsky and The Fairground Booth

fairground Booth

Planning an extra chapter about Dostoevsky and the Fairground Booth in the book Blok, Meyerhold and the Fairground Booth thefairgroundbooth.com. Its come about due to further research into the symbolist painters of the time who were involved with theatre set design and theatre in general in Russia and Europe: Benois, Somov,Golovin and more particularly Dobuzhinsky. He designed sets for The Devil’s Play, and Continue reading

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Music, Blok, Gogol and “The Tempest”

fairground Booth collage 2

In an article by James David Jacobs about Shakespeare and music he writes

“The Tempest stands at the crossroads of theatrical history: between the Renaissance and the Baroque, between the Elizabethan theatre of the imagination and the Jacobean spectacle, between the primacy of the word and the primacy of sensory entertainment”.

Similarly The Fairground Booth was written and performed at the threshold of a new epoch in 1906 in Russia. Continue reading

Posted in Alexander Blok, art, metamorphosis, Michael Craig, Russian literature, Russian Theatre, Russian Theatre film series, The Fairground Booth, Theatre | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Time Not Wasted

downloadNot much done the last few days but all not lost. Yesterday spent a few hours on The Fairground Booth documentary. I have been working on semi computer generated sequence mostly made up of composited layers. I began it a few months ago and left it on one side. Came back  to it yesterday with fresh ideas and energy. Seems to be working better. Need to add some more layers and work them into the overall composition. The book about The Fairground Booth is going OK. Almost completed the Tempest section and as far as I can tell it is working out. Quite long but I feel like its good progress and I know where I am going. As part of this section I have been preparing a separate part about Musicality in FB and will publish it as a post and then incorporate it into the book itself maybe in a slightly expanded form. I always feel as if I am not getting enough done but it isn’t true I think. Also today worked on a documentary to be shot in Ireland and Russia. Preparing locations for Dublin and more ideas have occurred to me as a consequence. Had idea for filming at Dublin Harbour which will fit together with other footage already shot in Moscow. Continue reading

Posted in Copernicus Films, Documetary Film, Filming in Russia, Russian Theatre, Russian Theatre film series, The Fairground Booth, Theatre | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fairground Booth book news

fairground Booth


Fair Booths on Admiralty Square, St. Petersburg – Konstantin Makovsky, c.1869

A pause in the writing of the book about the play The Fairground Booth which was written by Alexander Blok and staged by Meyerhold as more time is spent on the script for the documentary film of the same subject. Finally put together a draft which still needs a great deal of work to distill it down into something manageable but at least the process has started. One of the characteristics of this project is that firstly I am writing a book, two scripts and editing (for the time being) a documentary film simultaneously. Plus The Fairground Booth project has to be integrated into the over all Russian Theatre Documentary Film Series which already has three films available and completed: “Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde”, “Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre” and “Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre“.
Continue reading

Posted in Alexander Blok, Copernicus Films, Meyerhold, Russian Theatre, Russian Theatre film series, Shakespeare, Tempest, The Fairground Booth, Theatre | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Step by step

fairground BoothWell into the Fairground Booth project  by Copernicus Films and Michael Craig with meetings planned and book going ahead step by step. Excellent progress on this project. Going through the Shakespeare section which is a specific component of Blok’s play. With regard to this project there is a feeling that I have broken through a barrier which seemed to be holding up progress but in fact this was just my imagination. With each project one reaches a plateau. While traversing the level and horizontal path it feels like little progress is being made but this is self evidently an illusion and even talk of plateaus and peaks is misleading.

There probably is no right way of describing the process and the answers you seek and solutions you want do not come straight away. However you find that you are asking the same questions as other practitioners of theatre have asked. What is theatre and what is acting and who am I. Directors actors and theoreticians have asked these questions over and over and their answers and thoughts are illuminating and inspirational, so there is plenty of help out there for whatever you may be searching for. Next week will be a key meeting for the project. There are back ups but this meeting is important.

+Russian Theatre Documentary Series

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Moving on


Moscow late evening

After the last bit of writing here things have moved on. Got down to completing a whole section of The Fairground Booth book – the section detailing The Apocalypse and The Fairground Booth. Not a bad bit of progress and all ready to start the next section about Blok and Shakespeare. I wanted to move through things chronologically but instead I started again somewhere a bit further on. The in between sections I will deal with later.

Talked with an acquaintance who I met at the Irish Embassy. We are cooperating at a number of levels but it might be possible to cooperate on The Fairground Booth. Preparing a letter to send to him based on the discussion we have had earlier

A few weeks ago filmed at the Vvedensky cemetery where Field is buried. Cold snowy weather perfect for what I wanted. Tried out the new slider which I have. Worked OK and got some very evocative footage. May come in handy in the future.

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