"We are here to Salute the Red Army": Basil Dean and his Russian adventures

Warden, Claire (2013) "We are here to Salute the Red Army": Basil Dean and his Russian adventures. Theatre Survey, 54 (3). pp. 347-366. ISSN 0040-5574

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0040557413000252

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


In 1943 British theatre producer Basil Dean (1888-1978) coordinated a new performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall. With help from prominent British actors and support from the British government, Dean’s Salute to the Red Army celebrated the exploits of Britain’s Russian allies and encouraged greater solidarity between the two countries. This event did not simply represent a wartime response to circumstances but also marked an ongoing fascination with Russia and its theatre, first provoked decades earlier when Dean travelled to Moscow. His overwhelming impression was one of “vitality”, that Russian theatre, despite its political extremes, could provide an aesthetic model for the British stage.
This article reassesses the experiences of a vital but under-researched figure in British theatre history as a conduit of techniques and ideas, transporting his belief in the importance of an inclusive audience into this innovative production. Providing a performance-based study of Salute to the Red Army, it claims this production as emblematic of an ongoing artistic dialogue between Russia and Britain, accentuated by the wartime socio-political alliance. However, as the article reveals, the audience demographic and response to Salute to the Red Army was laced with tensions and controversies as the government sought to celebrate its Russian allies without encouraging revolution on its own shores.

Keywords:Theatre, Second World war
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:11767
Deposited On:03 Sep 2013 12:40

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