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Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre (the Theatre, for short) is situated at 23 Tverskoy Boulevard. The building of the Theatre was first mentioned in written sources in the times of Catherine the Great, in 1779, when Privy Counsellor Duke Ivan Vyazemsky sold a courtyard with the house in the parish of the Church of St. John the Apostle for 3,300 roubles to A. Dmitriyeva-Mamonova, a wife of a brigadier. It was described as "stone, old palace". Its facade was then much shorter than it is now.
Subsequent owners, Mayor General I. Dmitriyev-Mamonov and later Colonel Pyotr Kologrivov and the Vyrubovs, rebuilt the house and extended it. In the mid-19th century, its facade was remodelled in the spirit of Eclecticism.
In the early 20th century, the house was bought by Actual State Counsellor Portnov; he rented out the ground floor to a club of cyclists and to a music and drama interest club and he rented out the first floor to a private gymnasium.
In 1911, the house was purchased by the Parshin brothers who, according to some sources, rented its rooms out as apartments or, according to other sources, placed accountancy courses and military registration and enlistment office there.
In 1914, the young director Aleksandr Tairov was searching for a building for its theatre. This is how that was remembered by the actress Alisa Koonen: "...Even earlier I noticed here a mansion that had a beautiful door made of black wood. The house seemed to be deserted and mysterious. In the evenings, there was no light in its windows. Tairov examined the house from outside and agreed that there was something interesting about it." These were the words of the director himself: "Four rooms, arranged in an enfilade, are not suitable for a theatre... It would be a sin to demolish them. However, it is possible to add a small auditorium and a stage to them. The building is simply made for theatre."
The owners agreed to do necessary redesign works, and in May of 1914 construction works started, according to a design by the architect N. Morozov. On 12th December the same year, a theatre called the Chamber Theatre was opened with the performance Shakuntala based on an Ancient Indian drama by Kalidasa. However, obstacles suddenly appeared. The church authorities protested against the fact that a theatre would be situated in the immediate vicinity of the Church of St. John the Apostle. A settlement was reached, but with great difficulties.
In the 1930s, the issue of redesigning the theatre building was again raised. An interesting design was proposed by the artist and architect Georgy Goltz. The new building was to combine the old building of the Chamber Theatre with new rooms. The added rooms were to be occupied by an auditorium that would seat 900 people, rooms for spectators and theatre staff, while the old part of the building was to be transformed into a theatre school. The old and new parts were to be connected with a common lobby. Tairov saw Goltz's design, but the redesign works were postponed and later completely forgotten. However, the Theatre was transformed a little bit in the 1930s. According to designs of the architects Konstantin Melnikov and the Steinberg brothers, the facade obtained a simple and modest appearance.
In 1949, the Chamber Theatre was shut down for, as it was officially announced, "aestheticism and formalism". The Theatre was reorganised, and in 1950 it received its present name, Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre.
The last changes to the building were made in 1980 when the enfilade of the Alexandrine epoch (the first quarter of the 19th century) was reconstructed and moulding and wall paintings were restored. At present, these rooms bear the name of Aleksandr Pushkin.
The year 1950 is considered to be the year when the Theatre was born. The USSR's People's Artist Vasily Vasilyevich Vanin was appointed the first head art manager of the Theatre. Being a talented and ambitious man, Vanin used all his enthusiasm and perseverance to "create" the Theatre. In a single year, he managed to present five new performances. The Scarlet Flower, a performance for children based on the tale by Sergey Aksakov, has been running up to now with permanent success. Vanin performed his last role, that of Rasplyuyev in Krechinsky's Wedding, on a new stage.
From 1952 to 1953, the USSR's People's Artist Boris Babochkin occupied the position of the head director. Babochkin peformed the role of Klaverov (and Boris Smirnov performed the role of Bobyrev) in the performance Shadows (based on the play by Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin and staged by Aleksey Diky), which was not approved by the censorship for a long time. In this acutely critical and brilliant performance, one censorship committee after another saw not the "cursed" past, but instead a too vivid and recognisable present.
From 1953 to 1960, the USSR's People's Artist Mikhail Tumanov was the head of the Theatre. The performance Ivanov staged by Mariya Knebel (and based on the play by Anton Chekhov), where Smirnov tragically and relentlessly played the role of Ivanov, became an event in Moscow's theatre life. Such Tumanov's performances as Marie Tudor (based on the play by Victor Hugo), Los arboles mueren de pie (by Alejandro Casona) and Route (by Ignaty Dvoretsky) involved such legendary actors as Faina Ranevskaya, Olga Viklandt, Boris Chirkov, Nikolay Petrov, Mikhail Nazvanov and Marina Kuznetsova, a wonderful actress and one of the most beautiful women of her time.
In 1960, Russia's People's Artist Boris Ivanovich Ravenskikh became the head director of the Theatre. In the history of the Theatre, his name is associated with the age of high romanticism. Being fanatically devoted to art, Ravenskikh was a zealous artist and an absolutely free individual. His theatre that was vivid, plastic and passionate is impossible to imagine without music. It was as if the conventions of the Soviet regime and the grey everyday routine did not exist for him. In his performances, Ravenskikh liked to show the individual at the moment when his spiritual powers were strained to the limit: Romagnola based on the play The Girl from Romagna by Luigi Squarzina, The Virgin Soil based on the novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, The Days of Our Life based on the play by Leonid Andreyev and Dramatic Song based on the novel How the Steel Was Tempered by Nikolay Ostrovsky. His performances involved such brilliant masters of the stage as Liliya Gritsenko, Lyudmila Skopina, Yury Averin, Lyudmila Antonyuk, Afanasy Kochetkov, Russia's Meritorious Artists S. Bubnov, Nikolay Prokopovich and S. Bobrov. The name of Ravenskikh is associated with the discovery of the talents of such actors and actresses as Tamara Lyakina, Yury Gorobets, Leonid Markov, Valery Nosik, Aleksey Loktev, Vera Alentova, Nina Popova, Nina Marushina and Roman Vildan.
From 1971 to 1978, Russia's People's Artist Boris Tolmazov was the head of the Theatre, followed in 1979 by Aleksandr Govorucho. From 1982 to 1987 Boris Morozov was the head director of the Theatre. During that time, the image of the Theatre was defined by such performances as Tolmazov's Destiny of a Man based on the novella by Sholokhov and Last Days based on the play by Mikhail Bulgakov; Govorukho's The Robbers based on the play by Friedrich Schiller, Bondwomen based on the play by Aleksandr Ostrovsky and An Optimistic Tragedy based on the play by Vsevolod Vishnevsky, the latter performance involving such masters as Svetlana Misery and Aleksandr Porokhovshchikov; Morozov's Moon in a Small Window based on the play by Rodion Fedenev (in turn, based on works by Bulgakov) and I am a Woman based on the play by Viktor Merezhko.
From 1987 to 2000, Russia's People's Artist Yury Yeryomin was the head of the Theatre. The scorching sincerity of his productions always addressed people. He often transformed the usual theatre space to get spectators directly involved into the action. His Ward No. 6 based on the novella by Chekhov was one of the most popular performances of the late 1980s and a real culture shock. There were also The Black Monk based on the play by Chekhov, Cinders based on the play by Janusz Glowacki, Demons based on the play The Possessed by Albert Camus (in turn, based on the novel Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), Erik XIV based on the play by August Strindberg and Ivanov's Family based on the short story The Return by Andrey Platonov.
In April of 2001, Russia's Meritorious Artist Roman Kozak became the head art manager of the Theatre. His main policy is to invite high-class directors: "The main stage will be reserved for experienced, well-known directors, while the secondary one will be used by young ones... The branch must become an area for experiments, trials and errors. While on the main stage we will attempt to make important theatrical events. Featuring stars and famous directors." (excerpt from an interview to the Vremya Novostey newspaper, 15th October 2001). Among the invited directors are Vladimir Ageyev, Kirill Serebrennikov, Vladimir Petrov, Yury Urnov and Vasily Senin; and negotiations with Saint Petersburg directors such as Grigory Kozlov, Yury Butusov and Grigory Dityatkovsky are under way.
In June of 2010, Yevgeny Pisarev, the Honoured Artist of Russia, was appointed art director of the Theatre.
In the early 1920s, after the Russian October Revolution of 1917, the so called "travelling" theatres appeared in Russia. They trouped around Moscow in some wagons and carried all their decorations with themselves. These theatres played cheap performances "for commoners" and accompanied them with various religious and philosophical discussions and ...
The history of the Satire Theatre's building began in distant times of the 1917 Russian Revolution when the Nikitins' Circus existed. Then, after the Circus moved out because of no food for animals, the Moscow Music Hall moved in. Later the music hall circus was transformed into the Operetta Theatre and only then into the Satire Theatre.