Grandpa Durov’s CornerRussian: Ugolok dedushki Durova or Уголок дедушки Дурова is the world’s only animal theatre. This is where many of Moscow’s children first encounter trained animals. The age of the theatre audience generally ranges from 1.5 to 9 years old.
The animals here perform in productions based on both famous fairy tales and original stories written especially for Grandpa Durov’s Corner. The theatre is located in the centre of Moscow. Its interior retains a lot of features typical of the Soviet era. It might bring back childhood memories to some people while others will get immersed into the atmosphere of bygone days for the first time.
Durov’s Corner is sometimes called a circus for young children like the Moscow State Circus because animals perform as conjurers and gymnasts here. It really does feel like a circus; the semicircular stage reminiscent of an arena, the curtain, and even the amphitheatre-like rows of seats rising in semicircles. Some of the performances are more like circus entertainment, such as “Teach by Amusing”Russian: «Забавляя - поучать», for instance. However, the core repertoire is made up of full-scale narrative performances where animals are artists in their own right.
There are more than ten performances on the list of productions, involving a large number of animals: an elephant, hippos, sea lions, ponies, monkeys, cats, dogs, goats, a wild boar, a raccoon, a porcupine, a tiger, a donkey, bears, birds and others. There are so many animal actors there that if you have never been to a zoo, you’ll see many of them for the first time during the theatre’s performances. Moreover, at Grandpa Durov’s Corner there are even animals that cannot be found in the Moscow ZooRussian: Moskovskiy zoopark or Московский зоопарк. One example is hippos, which perform in almost all the productions shown on the Big Stage.
WHAT TO WATCH
“The Century-Long RoadRussian: «Дорога - длинною в век!»” is one of the most spectacular performances. Staged to mark the theatre’s 100thanniversary, the production involves almost the entire animal troupe. A hippo, an elephant, sea lions, and bears appear in the first part.
The second part shows a reconstruction of Durov’s famous large railroad. Vladimir Durov came up with an idea for this show about 100 years ago. The mini-play shows the life of a railway station, where a raccoon does the washing in a launderette, a bear works as a janitor, and dogs greet the train with flowers in their mouths. The train, driven by a monkey, is a real functioning train reduced in size which was built by skilled engineers especially for this performance. The moment the train appears never fails to delight spectators of all ages. There are other performances that are highly popular with the public including “An Extraordinary Journey”, “The Queen’s Whim”, and “The Story of a Crystal Slipper”. Large animals take part in them too.
There are very interesting performances based on Russian folk tales “TurnipRussian: Repka or Репка”, “A Goldfish’s Tale”, “Give Me a Fairy Tale”, “How Babka Yozhkasome kind of witch in Slavic European folklore Became Kind” and others. During the New Year public holidays, you can see seasonal performances such as ,“In the Footsteps of the Snow Queen” and “Ded Moroza Slavic fictional character similar to that of Father Christmas the Long Nose”. These productions are box office hits, and ticket sales for them start in the summer.
The average running time of a performance for the youngest spectators is 50 minutes without an interval (on the Small Stage) and for older children around 1 hour 40 minutes with one interval (on the Big Stage).
THE MOUSE RAILWAY
In 2013, the Mouse Railway was opened at the theatre. It is named “Once on a Mouse PlanetRussian: «Однажды на мышиной планете»”. The “Myshinka”Russian: «Мышинка», as it is nicknamed, is a dynamic performance shown in a separate auditorium of the theatre, lasting 20 to 25 minutes. Mice (both live and artificial) travel by train, boat, and cable car. At the beginning and at the end of the performance, its lead actress dressed as a cat goes rounds carrying a pet mouse so that spectators can pat it. The performance is on every day except Monday and Tuesday, when the theatre is closed.
THE HISTORY OF THEATRE
Grandpa Durov’s Corner is a family theatre. Since the early 20th century, a few generations of this world-famous circus family have worked here. The theatre was founded in 1912 by Vladimir Leonidovich Durov. Born into a noble family, he dreamt of performing on stage even when he was a child. At 17, he ran away to live at a circus, where he began to work as an animal watchman and assistant animal trainer. It took Durov only a few years to become very well known in circuses as a gifted clown and animal trainer. At the age of 45, Vladimir Durov bought a house with a garden and stables in Moscow with the money he had earned performing and opened his own theatre in it. He gave it a simple name, Durov’s Corner. It has been said that the theatre would not have been established if Vladimir Durov hadn’t invented his own method of training animals, based on kindness and treats. This method was truly revolutionary at the time.
The theatre building has survived since 1894 and is almost the same as it was back then. Vladimir Durov lived on its first floor until his death. Today visitors can see his study, drawing room, and some memorabilia, which are all part of the Theatre Museum.
You can only visit the Theatre Museum as part of an excursion. These are run on a daily schedule daily except on Mondays and Tuesdays. At the beginning of a tour, visitors are greeted by Vladimir Durov himself (played by actor Oleg Savitsky), who trains animals while observed by visitors. The museum gives the full picture of the famous Durov dynasty from its founder Vladimir Leonidovich known as Grandpa Durov to its current operators.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com