Bolshoi Drama Theatre was established in 1918 by Maksim Gorky, Aleksander Blok and Maria Andreeva. Its first season started from the tragedy by Friedrich Schiller “Don Carlos”.
The building of the theatre
Building on the Fontanka river was constructed by the Swiss architect Ludwig Fontan in 1876-1877 on the land belonged to the earls Apraksin. Right after the construction, the building was rented by the Directorate of the Imperial theatres. The Small Imperial Theatre opened there in 1879. Since 1882 the stage was lent to various impresarios. After 1895 the building was rented by the Literature-artistic coterie. It was managed by the journalist and playwright Aleksey Suvorin.
After the Revolution of 1917, the building belonged to the Apraksins was nationalized.
The main stage. Photo taken from the website
Establishment and development
Blok became the first Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Drama Theatre. Gorky was an “ideological mastermind” of the theatre. His slogan “Heroic theatre to the heroic people” received incarnation in the repertoire of the theatre.
The theatre has a very specific atmosphere and aesthetics, which formed over its existence. Scenes from Shakespeare, Schiller, Hugo were played on the stage. The characters confirmed the ideas of nobility, thereby opposing honor and dignity to cruelty and chaos of the surrounding world. The artistic look of the theatre was mostly defined by artists, such as Aleksander Benois and Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, and an architect Vladimir Shchuko. They formulated the tremendous and truly wonderful style of early Bolshoi Drama Theatre.
In the beginning of 1956 Bolshoi Drama Theatre was supposed to celebrate its 37th birthday. On the eve of the holiday, a new director (the eleventh one) was introduced to the troupe. That’s when a new era of the theatre started — the era of Georgy Aleksandrovich Tovstonogov.
He created the theatre that stayed a real leader of the native theatrical process. Tovstonogov created performances that amazed not only the theatrical life of Leningrad, but also the whole country. Among those are “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky, “Woe from Wit” by Griboedov, “The Lower Depths” by Gorky, “The Government Inspector” by Gogol. Tovstonogov also gathered a unique troupe that became the best one in the dramatic theatre area.
In 1964 the theatre got an academic status. Six years later a small stage was open. Since 1992 the Bolshoi Drama Theatre is called after its famous former director G.A. Tovstonogov.
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