This article examines the stage history of M. Gorky’s play The Lower Depths in Germany. The author discusses German stage history of Gorky’s work against the social background and in the context of major artistic tendencies of the 20 th century. Steady interest in Gorky as a playwright in Germany is due to the acute social importance and universality of the problems reflected in his dramas. Bearing on the archive materials of the Gorky Museum, the essay explores interpretations of Gorky’s cult drama The Lower Depths in the work of European stage directors, acclaimed reformers of theatrical art. A significant part of the “Gorky and German Theater” section of the Gorky Museum (IWL RAS) is devoted to The Lower Depths. Two series of photographs represent the first German staging of Nachtasyl (German translation of The Lower Depths). The performance of Max Reinhardt and Richard Vallentin in Berlin Kleines Theater on January 10–23, 1903, had great success and good takings. After the premiere, attention to the personality of Gorky in Europe increased; he became the most popular Sovietauthor. When Nazi came to power, they banned Gorky’s work in Germany: he reappeared on the German stage only after the World War II. In the late 1960s, on the wave of Gorky’s centenary (1968), world theatres ran a series of performances based on his plays. The 1970s were marked by a renewal of interest to Gorky the playwright. The Lower Depths was staged in Europe, the USA, and the UK. Both directors and critics perceived Gorky’s dramaturgy in the context of works of his contemporaries — Shaw, Ibsen, Hauptmann, Tolstoy, Chekhov.
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