Le Cocu magnifique
The play was performed in the Netherlands for the first time on November 15, 1956 by the Utrecht Student Theatre Association (Utrechtse Studenten Toneel Vereniging). The translation was by Krijn Prince, and the play was directed by professional director Jack Dixon.
Bruno, the village scribe, is married to a beautiful and devoted young woman named Stella. He makes a good living composing love letters for the uneducated villagers, many of which are addressed to his wife. Bruno's eloquence can lift him off into rhapsodies of brilliant exaggeration. As a character verging on the manic, his paranoia is easily excited. He convinces himself that his fear of being cuckolded can be appeased only by the certainty of knowing he is a cuckold. Therefore, he offers his wife first to his best friend and then, when that fails to appease him, to all the young men of the village. This demented decision disrupts village life: the town turns violently against him, and the women of the village threaten Stella with torture, degradation and expulsion.
Vsevolod Meyerhold's production (1922), with set and props based on the designs of Lyubov Popova, broke away from the “conventional framing of the acting area” by eliminating the wings and proscenium arch from the scenery. He believed that the scenery should just represent the setting in its most basic form rather than “illusionistic settings”. Due to the nature of theatre, Theatrical Constructivism is somewhat of an oxymoron. Its use in theatrical productions is not strictly utilitarian like many constructivists desired. Theatre requires a certain amount of subjectivity and use of imagination on the audience's end. Meyerhold's production, despite being vastly different from what people were accustomed to, was received very well. The set for The Magnanimous Cuckold consisted of framework, rotating wheels in the background to signify machinery, and a windmill to indicate the play's location. The intention of the simplified scenery was to “organize a scenic space in the way most convenient for the actors”.
In addition to facilitating the actors, the scenery was also designed with the expectation that it could be presented outside as well, due to the closing of Meyerhold's theater. This resulted in the set being easily deconstructed and reconstructed, a strong indication of constructivist influence on the production.
Another indication of this influence comes from a large, black, rotating disc in the background. On this disc the letters 'CR-ML-NCK' were painted in white, which made it far more visible when the disc rotated (along with the two wheels) which coincided with the changing passions of the characters. There was not a subjective meaning to the letters on the disc; they referenced the writer (Crommelynck), and made the rotation of the disc more obvious than a purely black disc would be.
The Magnanimous Cuckold stage by Meyerhold "unveiled a new Constructivist and biomechanical theatre, entirely based on movement and a mastery of the stage space
- Meyerhold, V. Ė., and Edward Braun. Meyerhold on Theatre. New York: Hill and Wang, 1969. Print.
- Braun, Edward. The Theatre of Meyerhold: Revolution on the Modern Stage. New York: Drama Book Specialists, 1979. N. Print.
- Markov, P. A. The Soviet Theatre. London: V. Gollancz, 1934. Print.
- Picon-Vallin, Béatrice (2017). Meyerhold, The Magnanimous Cuckold. Subjectile. ISBN 978-2-36530-029-2.