Theatrical adaptations of The Master and Margarita
Plays staged between 1971 and 1980
One of the theatre adaptations of The Master and Margarita which is still getting sold out today, dates back to the 70s. It's the renowned adaptation created by Yuri Lyubimov (1917-2014) for the Taganka theatre in Moscow.
This was, however, not the first time the novel by Bulgakov was staged. Long before Yuri Lyubimov premiered his theatrical adaptation on April 1, 1977, the story of The Master and Margarita had already been on scene four times, each time in Poland. The first creation dates from 1971, five years after the first publication of the novel.
Remarkably, the first versions avoided to use The Master and Margarita as a title for the representation. The first theatrical version was called Czarna magia oraz jak ją zdemaskowano (Black magic and its unmasking), followed by Czarna magia (Black Magic), Czy pan widział Poncjusza Piłata? (Have you seen Pontius Pilate?) And Pacjenci (Patients). In the early '80s, the title Poncjusz Piłat piąty procurator Judei (Pontius Pilate, the fifth procurator of Judea) was used.
In the '70s, The Master and Margarita could almost exclusively be seen on stages in the Soviet Union and Poland. Exception to this rule was the series of 24 performances in the New York Public Theater from November 15 to December 3, 1978, directed by the Romanian Andrei Şerban. The American organizers were not so well informed about what had happened before on the other side of the Iron Curtain though, since they announced their representation as «a world premiere of an original adaptation of a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov». Besides, six months before, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1977, the University of Bradford Drama Group had already performed Satan's Ball, an adaptation written by Richard Crane and directed by his wife Faynia Williams. It won the Scotsman Fringe First Award that year.
You can view the details of the performances by clicking on a year at the top of this page. If you observe errors in the data or if you got information about other performances, please feel free to contact us.