The prolific Russian playwright of the 19th Century wrote over 50 plays and translated 20 others. Influenced by Gogol, Pushkin, Shakespeare, Goldoni and Moliere, his plays are filled with characters and stories of the rising Russian entrepreneurial class and the theatre. Subject to police scrutiny early in his career (his first play, A Family Affair (1849), was personally banned by Czar Nicholas I), Ostrovsky lost his post at the Moscow Commercial Court and became a journalist.
His plays were circulated in private readings and built his reputation without a single production. A Family Affair was first produced in 1858; The Storm in 1859. A two-volume collection of his works was finally printed.
The elimination of serfdom and the ensuing change from feudalism to entrepreneurialism in Russian society from 1861, provided new material for Ostrovsky. Later plays address the rising class of speculators versus land owners, of which Too Clever By Half and Crazy Money are examples. Crazy Money is based on his own translation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
Ostrovsky helped found the Actor’s Circle in 1865 which was succeeded by the Society of Literature and Arts. From these grew the Moscow Art Theatre and set the stage for Anton Chekhov. His statue stands outside the Maly theatre in St. Petersburg.
The StoryLine Project presented a new translation by Stephen Mulrine of Crazy Money in its fall 2000 reading series and at Theatre Resources Unlimited’s 6th Annual TRU Voices Reading Series, May 2004.
The StoryLine Project presented a new translation by Stephen Mulrine of Crazy Money in its fall 2000 reading series and at Theatre Resources Unlimited’s 6th Annual TRU Voices Reading Series, May 2004. Crazy Money translator Stephen Mulrine has written extensively for radio and television. A poet and playwright, his published translations from Russian include plays by Pushkin, Gogol, Ostrovsky, Turgenev, Chekhov and Gorky, as well as contemporary works by Gelman and Petrushevskaya. His adaptation of Yerofeev’s cult 1960’s novel Moscow Stations has been staged in Edinburgh, London and New York, and two collections of his Ostrovsky translations, including Crazy Money, are published by Oberon Books.