The Theatre of Nations is essentially a large theatre festival that lasts the whole year. It hosts productions of the best Russian and foreign directors, including: the widely-renowned Robert Lepage from Canada (Hamlet. Collage), the legendary Eimuntas Nekrošius from Lithuania (Caligula), the famous Robert Wilson from the United States (Pushkin’s Fairy Tales); the young but already well-known Dmitry Volkostrelov (Three Days in Hell, Russian Romance), Timofey Kulyabin (#shakespearsonnets) and Philip Grigoryan (The Stone).
Originally, the Theatre of Nations was called the Theatre of Peoples’ Friendship. Created just before the end of the Soviet era, in 1987, this theatre was intended to stage the best theatre productions of the Soviet republics. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it began to invite directors not only from former Soviet republics, but from foreign countries as well. Due to its newfound international flavour, it was called the Theatre of Nations.
The actors of the Theatre of Nations
The theatre does not have its own troupe of actors, however it attracts the best of Moscow talent: Chulpan Khamatova (starring in Miss Julie and Shukshin’s Stories), Marina Neyolova (The Glass Menagerie) and Liya Akhedzhakova (FIGARO. The Events of One Day). The theatre’s artistic director is the famous actor and director Yevgeny Mironov.
The Theatre has a diverse repertoire, but it gives special preference to productions that deal with contemporary topics, as well as to staging older plays in a modern context. For example, in the play The Gronholm Method, director Javor Gardev, together with the author Jordi Galceran, explores how far a person can go in pursuit of a career and how they may end up becoming a part of a faceless office machine. In turn, Timofey Kulyabin took the tragedy Electra by Euripides and, without changing a single line, moves the action to a waiting room in an airport, where reflections on the origin of the world become suddenly, and unexpectedly, relevant.
This theatre often re-interprets the classics. For example, Robert Lepage staged Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a one-man performance, showing just one person left alone with his thoughts. Philip Grigoryan stages a ‘toxic kitsch’ version of Gogol’s Marriage, where he reflects on the stereotypes of mass culture. However, if you prefer a traditional interpretation of the classics, you may want to skip this performance. Instead, go see The Swedish Match — a beautiful, witty performance based on the early stories of Anton Chekhov. Actors in this performance are the young and talented graduates of Oleg Kudryashov’s workshop, and each plays several roles, switching back and forth between the genres of detective comedy and vaudeville.
The past and the present
The Theatre of Nations is located in a building with a long history dating back much further than the theatre itself. It was constructed in the late 19th century by architect Mikhail Chichagov. This festive-looking ‘pseudo-Russian’ building was designed for the first Russian private theatre of lawyer Fyodor Korsch and equipped in accordance with the latest technological advancements. For example, it was lit exclusively by electricity, which, in 1885, struck Muscovites as amazing. The Korsch Theatre successfully staged both vaudevilles and serious dramas. After the revolution, the theatre became a branch of the Moscow Art Theatre and saw the performances of renowned actors Mikhail Yanshin, Innokenty Smoktunovsky and Oleg Tabakov.
The Theatre of Nations is located between the streets of Bolshaya Dmitrovka and Petrovka on Petrovsky Lane. If you decide to visit, leave home early and take the metro to Teatralnaya station, from there stroll down Dmitrovka, turn onto Stoleshnikov, come out to Petrovka and take some time to enjoy the view of Vysokopetrovsky Monastery. This walk will undoubtedly be a lovely start to your evening.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com