Since there is a ’30s module about Russian childhood under Stalin and a ’30s module about the arts, I thought it would be appropriate to combine the two in my post. By The Pike’s Wishes is a 1936 play by Yelizaveta Tarakhovskaya. Tarakhovskaya was a well known children’s author whose 1936 play drew on the well-beloved/known Russian folktale Wish Upon a Pike. In the play, there is a lazy young boy named Yemelya who lives with his two older brothers and their wives. Yemelya just wants to sleep on the warm stove in the house, but his step-sisters tell him to go fetch water from a river. While there, he catches a pike (a fish) who promises to grant him several wishes if Yemelya lets him free. Yemela wishes for pails of water that can get to the house by themselves, so he can go back to sleep and not carry the heavy pails. As the story progress, Yemelya calls on the pike a number of other times to: make his sled fly, transport him and his stove to the Tsar’s palace, make the Tsar’s daughter fall in love with him, escape the punishment of the angry Tsar, and create a big house on an island for the two lovebirds (the Tsar ends up forgiving the two and everyone lives happily ever after)
I thought the story was interesting, but the reason I chose this was because of this gem from Tarakhovskaya’s Wipedia page: “the play By the Pike’s Wish (Po shchuchuyemu veleniyu) is considered by theater experts as the greatest puppet show of the 20th century, making quintessence of Meyerhold‘s methods” (Wikipedia). I didn’t know they kept track of the greatest puppet shows in history! That made me much happier then it should have.
I would tie this back to what the modules by focusing on the fact that the play was specifically for kids. Soviet children of the 1930s were among the smartest, most literate, and healthiest bunch of kids Russia had ever seen. (Childhood Under Stalin). In other words, they were very important. This made it ever more important to provide kids with enriching educational and recreational activities. The show was staged in the Moscow State Puppet Theatre, a place dedicated solely for puppet shows ( it still exists today)
In 1938, the play was adapted into a well-received movie. I was planning on watching the movie, but I did not get the chance. Hopefully, I will be able to soon. I’m going to put the 1938 movie and a 1957 animated version of same name below.
This post earned a “red star” award from the editorial team.