The Hermitage Theatre was named after the eponymous park in the centre of Moscow. ‘Hermitage’ is a French word meaning ‘a place of solitude’, but don’t expect to find solitude in one of Moscow’s most popular gardens. The beautiful, ancient Hermitage Theatre building attracts everyone’s attention.
Mikhail Levitin has been the Hermitage Theatre’s director since 1987. He has put together a creative team of like-minded artists with an eccentric perception of the world. Shows staged at the theatre are often noisy and hectic – a whirlwind of action and life.
In fact, there are three unique theatres in the garden, each with its own story and creative life. The Hermitage Theatre enjoys so much success that it has another venue on New Arbat Street, with a fantastic auditorium.
History of the Hermitage theatre
A theatrical venue and several pavilions appeared in this cozy garden right after its creation in 1896. Years later, one of the buildings housed the Hermitage Theatre, founded in 1938. It was then known as the Variety and Miniature Theatre (Russian: Театр эстрады и миниатюр). Its repertoire was based avant-garde works by authors popular in the first decades of Soviet rule, such as I. Babel, Y. Olesha and D. Kharms.
Spectators found this theatre to be unconventional and exciting, but perceived major issues behind the actors’ Charlie Chaplin-like acting. In 1946, the theatre closed down and only reopened its doors in 1959. Leading Soviet playwrights – Mark Zakharov, Yuri Lyubimov, Yevgeni Vesnik, Aleksey Arbuzov and many others cooperated with the theatre’s newly appointed director, Vladimir Polyakov.
Mark Levitin was appointed director of the theatre in 1987, and it was under his leadership that it was renamed Hermitage. Without abandoning the main principles underlying the choice of plays, Levitin significantly expanded the range of literary works staged, and wrote many plays himself. He brought together like-minded people who shared his somewhat eccentric perspective on the world. The motto of The Brothers Serapionov, a literary association dating back to the hard first years of Soviet power, – ‘The situation is hopeless, let’s have fun!’ – also became one of the theatre troupe’s mottos.
Hermitage theatre today
Mikhail Levitin is incredibly careful in how he chooses to stage works, and the Hermitage can truly be referred to as ‘his’ theatre. The team gained fame because of their clown-like spirit (they were even referred to as the ‘School of Clowns’), due to the way they examine and showcase ‘the extremities of the human spirit’. Performances are often noisy and hectic, a whirlwind of colour and life. This is greatly appreciated by the public, because shows at the School of Clowns are known to have a grain of truth behind their eccentric spirit, making audiences not only laugh but also, think.
Among the works staged at the theatre are classical and modern plays, comic shows and many more. The Hermitage Theatre devotes particular attention to staging bright and vivid performances for kids and sometimes provides a venue for concerts and various shows.
The Empire-style main building of the theatre has two auditoriums, seating 454 and 280 people. Despite a relatively modest seating capacity, the theatre has a spacious and beautiful foyer, where spectators may be lucky enough to have a chat with actors or buy a souvenir. Gifts and interactive shows are often offered to young visitors.
The theatre’s other location on Novy Arbat Street occupies a tall book-like building and is more comfortable than the main building – it is original in its design and features an auditorium offering a high standard of comfort, with total visibility and audibility from any spot. Both buildings have cafés and сhanging facilities.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com