The Playing Schedule
Wednesday, October 18th through Saturday, November 18th
Wednesday @ 7:30pm
Thursday @ 7:30pm
Friday @ 7:30pm
Saturday @ 7:30pm
Sunday @ 5:00pm
2017 has already brought much reflection and commentary on the Bolshevik revolution that shook the world 100 years ago. Right on time—again—Platonov’s powerful, unsparing, clear-eyed dramatization of some of the terrible consequences of the revolution is right where it should be: on stage.
Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble, one of the oldest experimental theatre companies in New York City, located at 549 West 52nd Street between 11th and 10th Avenue, is presenting Fourteen Little Red Huts in a limited run from October 18th to November 18th. This is a play that should be experienced by anyone who thinks that the twentieth century has any lessons for us now, or anyone who loves challenging theatre and acting that rises to the demand of making a remote time and place fully present and moving as only theatre at its best can do.
Platonov (1899-1951) the Soviet era writer best known for his dystopian parable The Foundation Pit, also wrote plays. Fourteen Little Red Huts is about a very terrible period in Soviet history, during which Joseph Stalin and the Communist Party USSR pursued a policy of forced collectivization of the peasantry of Russia and the Ukraine. The policy included “Dekulakization,” the elimination of an entire class of peasant deemed to be counter-revolutionary because they owned livestock or small plots of land, and then famine as a state policy. More civilians lost their lives in what amounted to a war against Russian and Ukrainian peasants than in all the combatant nations during the whole of World War I.
Platonov did not write his play with the benefit of any intervening time between the ideologically inspired and organized mass murder of the nineteen-thirties. He wrote it as the murders and the crimes were being committed in the name of Communism. He was there, sent with other Soviet writers, including Boris Pasternak, to report on conditions in the new collective farms. What Pasternak witnessed prevented him from writing anything at all for decades after. Platonov took copious notes, in notebooks that, had they been inspected, would have meant instant imprisonment or death.
Platonov called the plays that came out of this immediate engagement with the reality of forced collectivization “tragicomedies.” Fourteen Little Red Huts he regarded as more tragic than comic. Whatever the balance (and there is much dark humour in the play) the achievement is astonishing. The play is more than the outcry or warning by one who was there, it is a work of art, as universal as it is specific, universal because of its specificity.