Brief Notes on Production History

He Who Gets Slapped was first staged in Russia in 1916, and in America in 1922.

This photograph is from a postcard distributed to advertise the first Russian stage production in Moscow in 1916.

Postcard, He Who Gets Slapped











(Of this production, the writer Boris Zaitsev recalls seeing Andreyev for the last time in his life at its opening night. Zaitsev recalls his impression of it: ““It is no masterpiece and it is far from perfect since Leonid Andreev produced little that was perfect. Chaos, haste, lack of restraint, fervor, excitability were too visible in his writing. These are the enemies of perfection. But as in all of the most important works that he wrote, there is in this play something very Andreev, caustic, very mournful, poisoned by bitterness… You can get angry, argue and criticize but you will not pass by indifferently.” When he saw Andreyev, Zaitsev noted that Z notes that Andreyev seemed fatigued and broken down; Andreyev’s only words to Zaitsev were these:  “They spoiled the play… They ruined it. The main role was misinterpreted. But look’, he pointed to a heap of clippings, ‘how happy all these asses are. It is such a pleasure for them – to kick me.'”)



This photograph shows the 1922 Theater Guild production at New York’s Garrick Theater.

He Who Gets Slapped, New York, 1922












Here are a few more images from that same production at the Garrick Theater.

Richard Bennett as He and Ernest Cossart as Briquet.

Richard Bennett as HE and Ernest Cossart as Briquet, New York, 1922












Margalo Gillmore as Consuela, Frank Reicher (center) as Mancini and Richard Bennett as He.

Margalo Gillmore as Consuela, Frank Reicher (center) as Mancini, Richard Bennett as HE, New York, 1922








Overview of entire set.

The Set of He Who Gets Slapped, New York, 1922










In 1956, Robert Ward completed an opera based on He Who Gets Slapped, named Pantaloon. An issue of the New York Times in April 1956 notes a “Columbia unit to perform Pantaloon at Juilliard” in May of that year, which was ultimately well-received by critics.

Quantaince Eaton’s Opera Production: A Handbook notes the following on Pantaloon: “Original tragedy has been mellowed to resignation, even with a suggestion of happiness to come. Highly melodic; arias and recitative; conservatively harmonized. No overture. Three acts, with short preludes to acts 2 and 3. Set is the same as the play; length 150 mins.”

This is a photograph from a production of Pantaloon at the North Carolina School of Arts, year unknown but likely between 1967-1974 when composer Robert Wardwas chancellor of the school.

Pantaloon, 1970s