|Translated by Annamária Radnai
The Petty Bourgeois was Maxim Gorky's first play although he had written many other kinds of work. Gorky was his pen name and it means "bitter". When the play, then called Scenes in the House of Bessemenov and directed by Stanislavsky, opened in St Petersburg in 1902, there were riots in the theatre. People sensed that Gorky was writing about a society that was ripe for the Russian revolution that was to come. In 1905 he was arrested and after this, he lived in exile in America and Italy for several years before coming home and being feted by Stalin as a hero of the revolution. There are many similarities between his plays and those of his contemporary, Anton Chekhov.
The 1902 drama shows the everyday life of a Russian household, with a strong father-figure lording over his adult children, while a colorful group of peculiar guests and servants bring the tension even higher. The plot focuses on different generations and ideologies forced to live together and the inevitable clashes.