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January 13, 1934

The Experimental Theatre gave the American première of Fear, by the Soviet socialist realist playwright Aleksandr Afinogenov. Two students, Dorothy Coleman ‘33 and Adelaide Brown ’33, translated the text under the supervision of Professor of Russian Nikander Strelsky. Originally banned by Soviet authorities, the play was later accepted as part of the Soviet self-criticism program and was in the third year of its run in the Soviet Union.

The play’s central character, Ivan Ilich Borodin, the director of the “Institute of Physiological Stimuli,” struggles to accommodate the Communist social order and yet preserve the tradition of individual inquiry and discovery. Borodin—a character modeled on Nobel physiologist Ivan Pavlov—was played by President MacCracken, Professor Strelsky appeared as Hussain Kimbaev (a Cossack) and C. Gordon Post, in his first year in the political science department, played Nikolai Tsexovoi, the politician husband of Yelena Makharova, Borodin’s Communist antagonist.

“There was nothing lacking in tonight’s presentation, and the play was received with unstinted applause. Many in the audience expressed wonderment that Broadway had not preceded Vassar in recognizing the merits of the piece.”

The New York Times

“Broadway would find it hard to do better.”

The New York Herald Tribune

“You put over at one stroke what is accomplished in the classroom only with long and painstaking effort.” Professor of History Lucy Textor in a letter to Experimental Theatre Director Hallie Flanagan

“The play was swell with Prexy and a new college heart-throb, Political Science Prof. Mr. Post, featured.”

MS student letter

The Years