The Sphera Drama Theatre is quite an unusual theatre in that it has a creative approach to the organization of the theatre troupe and a rare, amphitheatre-shaped auditorium. Muscovites and visitors to Russia’s capital city have been enjoying the enchanting atmosphere of the Sphera Theatre for over thirty years. Among its best-known productions are The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, A Theatrical Novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, Poor Folk by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Troilus and Cressida, a comedy by William Shakespeare, and A Foreign Evening by Marina Tsvetaeva.
The theatre is located in the very heart of Moscow, specifically in the legendary Hermitage Garden. The garden is steeped in history and has been a favourite recreational site since the end of the 19th century.
Theatre’s historical background and concept idea
One day, Yakov Shchukin, a merchant and patron of the arts, came up with the idea to lay out a garden on Karetny Ryad Street. He bought the ruins of a mechanical plant and several carriage shops some three kilometres from the Kremlin and became the first director of a garden named the Hermitage (“a place of seclusion”). The garden was officially opened in July 1895, and Muscovites took an immediate liking to its flowerbeds, paths and pavilions. It was in the Hermitage Garden that the first screening of the celebrated 10-minute film by the Lumière Brothers, Arrival of a Train at a Station, took place five months after its premiere in Paris.
Back then, no one could have imagined that, some twenty years later, a coup d’etat would result in the garden being nationalized and that the renovated pavilion would house, in 1984, the Sfera Theatre, founded by Yekaterina Yelanskaya. She made her mark as an outstanding and creative director with the theatre’s first production, Southern Main, a play based on a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. A constant search for new high-quality literary sources and means of interacting with the audience have been the essence of the theatre’s approach to art for the last thirty years.
The theatre’s name and it’s motto are intertwined. The motto is this: “We reject the principle of a cubic theatre with its wall removed…we adopt the principle of the communication sphere”. At the Sphera Theatre, you won’t see the conventional theatre layout. Instead, it is amphitheatre-shaped (no other Moscow theatre is shaped like this) and located in the middle of the auditorium. Spectators seated in close proximity to the actors feel involved in what is happening on the stage. The German playwright Bertolt Brecht sought to create this effect, but it is Y. Yelanskaya who has achieved it.
The director has always been very meticulous about her choice of repertoire, turning her attention only to classic literary works written without opportunistic tendencies and treating the public with great respect. The Sphera Theatre often invites actors from other theatres to participate in its productions, but its own troupe is a strong and successful team, too. O. Dal, G. Burkov, A. Kalyagin, G. Taratorkin and other distinguished artists will be forever associated with the Sphera Theatre.
Sfera theatre today
Aleksandr Korshunov, People’s artist of Russia and the son of Yekaterina Yelanskaya and actor Viktor Korshunov, has been the theatre’s director since 2014. With him at the helm, the troupe continues to stage successful productions, while maintaining time-honoured traditions. Spectators come in crowds to this theatre, where they truly feel actively involved in what is happening on the stage. They can connect with the actors, sharing a “common sphere” with them.
The theatre’s interior design is original and cozy. From hangers in the cloakroom to the buffet without endless queues, everything here is reminiscent of what theatres used to be like in the old days.
Outstanding acting combined with great eurhythmics and singing, an interesting selection of both traditional and modern productions, the unconventional interior and convivial atmosphere of the Sfera Theatre make it a one-of-a-kind experience. It usually plays to full houses and this incites spectators to visit it again and again. The 217-seat auditorium and stage can be easily rearranged and transformed. In 2003, the Sphera Theatre opened a new, small 100-seat auditorium featuring a private stage.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com