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Russian Army Theatre

Russian Army Theatre

The Central Academic Theatre of the Russian ArmyRussian: Tsentralnyi akademicheskiy teatr Rossiyskoy armii or Центральный академический театр Российской армии is one of the most visited and loved theatrical venues in Moscow. It consists of a large auditorium which seats 1,520 people and a small one seating 400. It contains the largest stage in Europe, providing the theatre with the opportunity to stage dramatic performances, concerts and popular musicals. The building itself has a fascinating history and is also architecturally significant. It’s with good reason that this building is considered one of the most prominent landmark buildings of Stalin’s era.

The theatre has a diverse repertoire. Naturally, patriotic performances about war have been at its core since its opening. These include, “The Dawns Here are QuietRussian: A zori zdes tikhie or А зори здесь тихие” by B. Vasiliyev, “The FrontRussian: Фронт” by A. Korneichuk, “Citizens of StalingradRussian: Stalingradtsy or Сталинградцы” by Y. Chepurin, “The Sevastopol MarchRussian: Sevastopolskiy marsh or Севастопольский марш” (based on Tolstoi’s short stories). There are a large number of performances about the lives of ordinary people who survived the war, for instance, “Sanya, Vanya, and Rimas with themRussian: Sanya, Vanya, s nimi Rimas or Саня, Ваня, с ними Римас” by V. Gurkin. The theatre is still directly connected with the army; it is even the place where people in creative occupations who are subject to military service spend their period in the army.

2063_image2_sA lot of classical performances are staged at the Theatre of the Russian Army too: W. Shakespeare, A. Ostrovsky, N. Gogol, A. Chekhov, Lope de Vega, P. Beaumarchais and J.B. Moliere feature in the repertoire. For the last 20 years, the theatre director has been B. Morozov, and many performances have become associated with him. His play “The Lower DepthsRussian: Na dne or На дне” (based on M. Gorkya Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method‘s work) has been awarded The Crystal TurandotRussian: Khrustalnaya Turandot or Хрустальная Турандот, a prestigious prize. The repertoire also includes some more modern plays by A. Gladkov and G. Patric. Several honoured and much-loved actresses as L. Chursina and A. Pokrovskaya star in these performances.

The theatre company was formed during the first Soviet five-year plansa list of economic goals, created by General Secretary Joseph Stalin to tour military bases. In 1935, it was decided to build a permanent building for the theatre in order to mark its 5th anniversary. After a competition held to decide on the design, K. Alabyan and V. Simbirtsev’s idea was chosen. It became one of the most outstanding monuments of Stalin’s Empirearchitecture of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, between 1933 and 1955 style in Moscow. Every detail of the building was in keeping with the spirit of the times from its luxurious interiors with marble staircases to its chandeliers and bespoke furniture. The mural in the crush-room as well as the auditoriums were made by the best artists of the time, such as A. Deyneka, V. Favorsky, and L. Bruni.

Another interesting point about the Theatre of the Russian Army is its layout. If you look at the building from above, you will see that it is shaped like a huge five-pointed star. This architectural solution turned out to be an advantageous one in terms of city design in general – the building does not only give shape to Suvorovskaya SquareRussian: Suvorovskaya ploschad or Суворовская площадь, but fits well overall into the city, pointing at the capital’s transport hubs with the “rays” of its star. However, this played a negative role during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 when the unique shape of the building allowed German aviators use it as a guide. Legend has it that the theatre’s unique star-shaped design was suggested by Marshal K. Voroshilov; he took his star-shaped ashtray, drew its shape with his pencil and ordered the architect to build it in that design. This is unlikely to be a true story but the unusual layout did an element of ideology which ended up causing some difficulties with arranging the rooms inside. Nevertheless, the theatre turned out to be big, spacious, spectacular, and comfortable.

2001_image3_sThe grand auditorium deserves particular attention. Its stage was planned for large-scale military themed performances, hence its enormous dimensions – horses and tanks could be brought onto the stage (there is no exact proof to this fact but some have claimed that real tanks took part in some performances). At the same time, the stage itself carefully designed, which opened the door for various landscapes and interior stage settings as well as backdrops for staging large-scale scenes.

In a new Soviet theatre, there was no place for stratifying seats based on visitor class or amount paid. For this reason, the theatre has no box seats, only has a capacious circle. The seats are designed to be comfortable for all visitors. Indeed, the stage can be seen quite clearly from nearly every row. However, the front row of the circle is at the same level as the stalls so it is very uncomfortable to sit in these particular spots.

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total number of grades: 6, average rating: 4.50 (from 5)
Location

Between Garden Ring and Third Ring Road

Nearest Metro Station

Dostoyevskaya

Address

2 Suvorovskaya Square, Moscow

Website

http://teatrarmii.ru/

Museum Opening Hours / Ticket Office Opening Hours

Ticket office is open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Days off

No

Ticket Price

From 700 to 2000 roubles.

Visiting Rules

Children under 12 years are not allowed on evening performances.

Additional Information

There is an opportunity to buy tickets online.

Gallery

Commander Suvorov, a theatrical performance
Russian Army Theatre. Ceiling paintings in the foyer
Russian Army Theatre. Small auditorium
Russian Army Theatre. Auditorium. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Vladimir Zeldin on stage

Featured reviews

Visitor rating:   4.5

February 2016
Looks beautiful!.. The atmosphere of the 1990s’ cultural legacy. Red carpets, a herringbone parquet floor, old newspapers, costumes, badges behind window panes, and so on...
There is everything to have a snack in the cafeteria: sandwiches (with sausage and salmon), ice cream, spirits (champagne, wine, Cognac, vodka), chocolate bars, and so on.
We sat in row 5 in the circle, to the right from the centre. Very good view of the stage. There’s no problem leaving your outwear in the cloakroom. The ladies there offer to rent binoculars to get back your clothes without queueing.

January 2016
I was impressed by both exterior and interior of the theatre – statuesque and large-scale. In the years of the Great Patriotic War special camouflaging setting was made for the theatre building so that its star shape was not seen from the sky. The same was done to the Lenin’s Mausoleum.
The view of the stage is good wherever your seat is. Perhaps, only the first row spectators are seated a bit too close to the stage, which is uncomfortable.

January 2016
I wouldn't give even a C for the organisation, put it that way, of the theatrical business. First of all, the staff in the theatre are very few.  We couldn't buy the theatre programmes, and there was nobody to ask the way to the auditorium. Not to mention the fact that on the ticket (electronic) it was not indicated that the performance was in the Small Auditorium. Huge queues in the lavatory (because the beginning of the performance in the small auditorium coincided with the end of the musical in the grand auditorium). It is horribly stuffy in the Small Auditorium.

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