Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man

Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man
Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man

Stanislavski (left) and Kachalov (right)
in the Moscow Art Theatre production in 1910.
Written by Aleksandr Ostrovsky
Date premiered 13 November [O.S. 1 November] 1868
Original language Russian
Genre Comedy

Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man (Russian: На всякого мудреца довольно простоты; translit. Na vsyakogo mudretsa dovolno prostoty) is a five-act comedy by Aleksandr Ostrovsky.[1] The play offers a satirical treatment of bigotry and charts the rise of a double-dealer who manipulates other people's vanities.[2] It is Ostrovsky's best-known comedy in the West.[3]

Production history

1868 - Alexandrinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg.

1868 - Maly Theatre, Moscow.

1885 - Korsh Theatre, Moscow.

The seminal Russian theatre director Konstantin Stanislavsky directed the play with his Moscow Art Theatre.[4] The production opened on 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1910.[4] Stanislavski played General Krutitsky[4] and Kachalov played Glumov.

A production of the play was the most significant of the early theatre work of the Russian Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein.[5] The playwright Sergei Tretyakov transformed Ostrovsky's text into a revue (what Eisenstein called a "montage of attractions"), which was entitled Wiseman (Mudrets).[6] Eisenstein and Tretyakov's approach was part of the Russian avant-garde Futurist movement known as "Eccentricism," which sought the "circusisation" of the theatre.[7] In celebration of the centennial of Ostrovsky's birth, the production opened in April 1923.[8] It was staged by the First Workers' Theatre of the Prolekult in its theatre in an ornate mansion on Vozdvizhenka Street, with a cast that included Maxim Shtraukh, Ivan Pyryev, and Grigori Aleksandrov.[9] Eisenstein drew on popular theatre techniques from farce and the commedia dell'arte in his staging, which sought to make every metaphor concrete and physical; he wrote:[10]

A gesture turns into gymnastics, rage is expressed through a somersault, exaltation through a salto-mortale, lyricism by a run along a tightrope. The grotesque of this style permitted leaps from one type of expression to another, as well as unexpected intertwinings of the two expressions.[11]

A screening of Eisenstein's first film, entitled Glumov's Diary, concluded the performance.[5] Writing in 1928, Eisenstein explained that he had aimed "to achieve a revolutionary modernization of Ostrovsky, i.e., a social reevalution of his characters, seeing them as they might appear today."[12]

Boris Nirenburg and A. Remizova directed an adaptation of the play for television in 1971.[13]


  1. ^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 370). The play's title has been rendered in English in many different ways in the critical literature, including: The Diary of a Scoundrel, which Brockett and Hildy give as an alternative; or simply The Scoundrel, in Gerould (1974, 73); Even Wise Men Err in Sealey Rahman (199, 174); Even a Wise Man Stumbles, in Magarshack (1950, 309).
  2. ^ Banham (1998, 829), Brockett and Hildy (2003, 370), and Gerould (1974, 73).
  3. ^ Banham (1998, 829) and Brockett and Hildy (2003, 370).
  4. ^ a b c Benedetti (1999, 212, 387).
  5. ^ a b Rudnitsky (1988, 96).
  6. ^ Gerould (1974, 73-74), Kleberg (1980, 81), and Rudnitsky (1988, 96).
  7. ^ Kleberg (1980, 78-82), Kolocotroni, Goldman, and Taxidou (1998, 295-297), and Rudnitsky (1988, 94-96).
  8. ^ The sources offer different dates for the opening: Gerould gives 16 April while Kleberg gives 26 April; see Gerould (1974, 73) and Kleberg (1980, 80-81).
  9. ^ Gerould (1974, 74), Kleberg (1980, 80-81), and Rudnitsky (1988, 96).
  10. ^ Gerould (1974, 74).
  11. ^ Quoted by Gerould (1974, 75).
  12. ^ Quoted by Gerould (1974, 73).
  13. ^ Na vsyakogo mudretsa dovolno prostoty at the Internet Movie Database.


  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0521434378.
  • Benedetti, Jean. 1999. Stanislavski: His Life and Art. Revised edition. Original edition published in 1988. London: Methuen. ISBN 0413525201.
  • Brockett, Oscar G. and Franklin J. Hildy. 2003. History of the Theatre. Ninth edition, International edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0205410502.
  • Gerould, Daniel. 1974. "Eisenstein's Wiseman." The Drama Review 18.1 (March): 71-85.
  • Kleberg, Lars. 1980. Theatre as Action: Soviet Russian Avant-Garde Aesthetics. Trans. Charles Rougle. New Directions in Theatre. London: Macmillan, 1993. ISBN 0333568176.
  • Kolocotroni, Vassiliki, Jane Goldman, and Olga Taxidou, eds. 1998. Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748609733.
  • Leach, Robert, and Victor Borovsky, eds. 1999. A History of Russian Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0521432200.
  • Magarshack, David. 1950. Stanislavsky: A Life. London and Boston: Faber, 1986. ISBN 0571137911.
  • Rudnitsky, Konstantin. 1988. Russian and Soviet Theatre: Tradition and the Avant-Garde. Trans. Roxane Permar. Ed. Lesley Milne. London: Thames and Hudson. Rpt. as Russian and Soviet Theater, 1905-1932. New York: Abrams. ISBN 0500281955.
  • Sealey Rahman, Kate. 1999. "Aleksandr Ostrovsky - Dramatist and Director." In Leach and Borovsky (1999, 166-181).

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