Erdman, Nikolai Robertovich (ЭРДМАН НИКОЛАЙ РОБЕРТОВИЧ) (1900–1970) By Rudova, Larissa
Nikolai Robertovich Erdman was a Soviet playwright, screenwriter, and poet. He was born and died in Moscow. In his youth he associated with the Russian avant-garde movement and became known for his two tragic-farcical plays, Mandat [The Mandate] (1924) and Samoubiitsa [The Suicide] (1928). Both plays were staged by the famous avant-garde director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874–1940)—although the latter production was stopped by the Soviet authorities for its subversive content. Further attempts to stage The Suicide in the early 1930s were also thwarted. Also during the 1930s, Erdman co-wrote screenplays for the two blockbuster comedies, Veselye rebiata [The Jolly Fellows] (1933) and Volga-Volga (1938), directed by Grigorii Aleksandrov (1903–1983). In 1933 Erdman was arrested for writing political poetry and exiled to Siberia. After World War II he worked primarily on theatrical sketches and librettos for Moscow theaters, but his most significant achievement belongs to children’s cinema and animation. He created screenplays for such immensely popular fairy tale films as Gorod masterov [The City of Masters] (1965) and, with Mikhail Volpin (1902–1988), Morozko [Jack Frost] (1964) and Ogon’, voda i … mednye truby [Fire, Water and Brass Pipes] (1968). In the 1960s Erdman was active at Moscow’s Taganka Theater, which tried to revive the theatrical tradition of the Russian avant-garde.