No conflict on the stage: the theory of beskonfliktnost’ in postwar Soviet drama

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The theory of beskonfliktnost’ (conflictlessness) is one of the most notorious examples of the stagnation of the cultural sphere under Stalin, yet its origins and exponents are little known. Condemned widely at the second Soviet Writers’ Congress in 1954, the term became used as a catch-all for the excesses of Socialist Realism which eschewed the need for a deeper analysis of the atrophy of post-war Soviet theatre. This article explores the development of the so-called ‘theory’ in cultural discourse and analyses some of the play texts that resulted from it. In the process it situates the concept of beskonfliktnost’ within the context of 1930s utopian idealism and the Stakhanovite drive to over-reach. Finally the article discusses how it came about that dramatist Nikolai Virta was made a scapegoat for the theory, despite never having written a ‘conflictless’ play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-445
JournalRussian Review
Issue number3
Early online date2 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Russia
  • USSR
  • Conflict
  • Socialist Realism
  • Utopia
  • Second World War
  • Stalin
  • Nikolai Virta
  • Socialism
  • Marxism
  • Theatre censorship


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