The Vsevolod Meyerhold Centre is one of the most original theatres in Moscow. Its repertoire is quite experimental, successfully combining the theatre’s vast professional experience with innovative ideas. Described as “a laboratory where taking risks is allowed”, the Centre stages the classics as well as little known plays by fledgling dramatists, giving them their first shot at reaching the public audience. One performance usually runs six times and then is replaced by another. However, if the public is particularly enamoured with the play, it may run longer than usual and even take a permanent foothold in the theatre’s repertoire.
The giant building accommodating the Centre on Novoslobodskaya Street is organised in an unusual way. For instance, interdisciplinary performances take place in the large auditorium on the 6th floor, while modern shows usually run in the black chamber auditorium on the 4th floor. Viewers enjoy para-theatrical genres in the café on the 4th floor, and shows for children are held on just about every level. The Meyerhold Centre provides a venue for international theatre festivals and the Russian Golden Mask festival.
The auditoriums, with their state-of-the-art equipment and lighting technology, can transform just like the stage can. Several events can take place in the theatre without any event affecting the other. The Centre also lends its stage to performances staged by other theatres who do not have their own permanent stages; it also welcomes troupes of guest actors from all over the world. Exhibitions, classes, seminars and training sessions are also held here. Everything related in some way to the director Vsevolod Emilyevich Meyerhold (1874-1940) is held in particularly high regard in the theatre, as the Meyerhold Centre was an institution that he dreamed of his whole life.
At first glance, the shows seem unusual and hard to understand. However, they are carefully staged and audiences often say that they are done with such a love for the theatre that they are, in and of themselves, a success.
History of the Meyerhold Centre
The Centre was founded in 1991 in Moscow, with the participation of the All-Russian Art Workshops Association and of the Vsevolod Meyerhold Artistic Heritage Commission. In 1986, Valery Fokin, director and chairman of the commission, visited the renowned theatre director Giorgio Strehler in Italy. Strehler invited him to take a look at the construction of his theatre, Piccolo di Milano. Most of the facilities in the building were designed to be rented out to other businesses, including a restaurant, a museum and offices. Fokin was particularly taken by Strehler’s economic example.
Back then, the economy forced many to focus purely on ensuring that theatres remained profitable. Valery Fokin decided that Strehler’s theatre concept blended well with the ideas of Vsevolod Meyerhold. The Meyerhold theatre was therefore created with a wide variety of venues occupying the space. The rent provided by these additional premises would allow unusual and amateur productions to be staged here, rather than purely those which would guarantee a full house and high ticket prices.
With a total area of 26,000 sq. m., the Meyerhold Centre was built after all the hassle associated with such a massive undertaking was ironed out. The theatre occupies an area of 4,000 sq. m., with the rest being rented to restaurants, hotels and offices. The Centre does not depend on public subsidies and can afford to choose any plays and any actor. The Meyerhold Centre is unlike any other in Russia and is successful in using its facilities to host theatre productions, concerts, film and TV show shootings.
Everyday life at the theatre
The Centre is in close cooperation with such independent theatre companies as the Viktor Ryzhakov Workshop Theatre (Russian: Мастерская Виктора Рыжакова) (Moscow Art Theatre School), the Moscow Modern Music Ensemble (Russian: Московский Ансамбль Современной Музыки), the Artistic Association No. 9 (Russian: Творческое объединение 9), Dmitry Brusnikin Workshop Theatre (Russian: Мастерская Дмитрия Брусникина), the Antiquarian Circus (Russian: Антикварный цирк) and many other groups and artists. A Master’s programme is offered to directors from the Baltic countries and the CIS on the premises of the Meyerhold Centre. Its priorities are supporting young talents and actors who are make their debut on stage, as well as piloting theatre-related projects.
The Meyerhold Centre hosts many clubs associated with the theatre, including stage movement, theatre criticism, standup, one-man show, and so on. Those who wish to try their hand at creativity on Youtube attend the Mobile Cinema Club, and those who dream of becoming outstanding public speakers sign up for the Story Telling Club. The Improvisation Club is open to people who wish to improve their communication skills as well as prospective students at theatre schools.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com