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Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre (Moscow)

3 Kamergersky Lane, Moscow (tel.: +7 495 629-87-60, +7 495 692-67-48), Metro station: "Okhotniy Ryad".

Map

http://www.mxat.ru

The Moscow Art Theatre (the Theatre, for short) was founded in 1898, by Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. In 1919, it was renamed the Moscow Academic Art Theatre.

The Theatre was opened on 14 October 1898 with a premiere of Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich, a historical drama by Aleksey Tolstoy, in the building of the Hermitage Theatre at 3 Karetniy Ryad Street. Since 1902, the Theatre has been situated in Kamergersky Lane in a building of the former Lianozov Theatre that was rebuilt the same year by architect Fyodor Schechtel.

A meeting of Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, the founders of the Theatre, in the Slavyansky Bazar Restaurant on 19 June 1897 is considered to be the start of the Theatre. It was not very long after that the Theatre was named the Art Public Theatre. As early as 1901, the word "public" was omitted from the name. The Theatre still focused on a democratic spectator though.

The core of the company was comprised of graduates of the Drama Department of Music and Drama College of the Moscow Philharmonic Society, where Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko gave lessons in acting technique (Olga Knipper, Ivan Moskvin, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Margarita Savitskaya, Maria Germanova, Maria Roksanova, Nina Litovtseva), and of performers of shows staged by The Society of Art and Literature Lovers managed by Konstantin Stanislavsky (Maria Lilina, Maria Andreyeva, Vasily Luzhsky, and Alexander Artyom). Alexander Vishnevsky was invited from a provincial town. Vasily Kachalov and Leonid Leonidov were admitted to the company in 1900 and 1903, correspondingly.

The actual birth of the Theatre is connected with Chekhov drama (The Seagull, 1898; Uncle Vanya, 1899; Three Sisters, 1901; The Cherry Orchard, 1904) and Gorky drama (The Philistines and The Lower Depths, 1902 both). While working on these plays, a new type of actor who could keenly convey character's peculiar psychology was formed, and new directing principles that achieved an acting ensemble and the creation of action tone were developed. The Theatre was the first one in Russia that reformed their repertoire, created their own range of subjects and lived for the gradual development of these subjects from one performance to another one. The best plays of the Theatre include Woe from Wit by Aleksandr Griboyedov (1906), The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck (1908), A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev (1909), Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1911), The Imaginary Invalid by Moliere (1913), and others.

In 1912, the first studios by the Theatre appeared. They prepared new actors on principles of the Theatre school. In 1924, the following graduates of the studios entered the company: Alla Tarasova, Mark Prudkin, Olga Androvskaya, Klavdiya Yelanskaya, Angelina Stepanova, Nikolay Khmelyov, Boris Livanov, Mikhail Yanshin, Aleksey Gribov, Anastasia Zuyeva, Nikolay Batalov, Mikhail Kedrov, Viktor Stanitsin, and others. All of them, together with Boris Dobronravov, Mikhail Tarkhanov, Vasily Toporkov, Mikhail Bolduman, Anastasia Georgiyevskaya, Anatoly Ktorov, and Pavel Massalsky, became the outstanding masters of a scene. Young directors Nikolay Gorchakov, Ilya Sudakov and Boris Vershilov graduated the studios too.

Uniting young actors, the Theatre began to create a modern repertoire comprising The Pugachev's Rebellion by Konstantin Trenyov, 1925; Days of the Turbins by Mikhail Bulgakov, 1926; plays by Valentin Katayev and Leonid Leonov; The Armored Train 14–69 by Vsevolod Ivanov, 1927). Works of classical literature were staged outstandingly: The Fiery Heart based on the play by Aleksandr Ostrovsky (1926), The Wild Day, or the Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais (1927), Dead Souls by Nikolay Gogol (1932), Enemies by Maxim Gorky (1935), Sunday (1930) and Anna Karenina (1937) by Leo Tolstoy, Tartuffe by Moliere (1939), Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov (1940), The School for Scandal by Richard Sheridan (1940).

During World War II, the following plays were staged: The Front Line based on the play by Aleksandr Korneychuk, Russian People by Konstantin Simonov, and The Naval Officer by Aleksander Kron. The plays of the post-war period include among the others The Last Victim by Aleksandr (1944), The Fruits of Enlightenment by Leo Tolstoy (1951), Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller (1957), The Golden Carriage by Leonid Leonov (1958 г.), Dear Liar by Jerome Kilty (1962).

However, in spite of several successes, the Theatre was in a crisis in the 1960s. Again and again the repertoire included short-lived plays. The generation change was quite painful too. The problems increased because any criticism against the Theatre, now officially recognised as the State Theatre, was forbidden. The oldest actors of the Theatre strived for recovery, and in 1970, they decided to invite graduate of the Studio School — Oleg Yefremov — to be their main director. In the 1970s, he managed to re-energise the Theatre. He staged such plays as The Last Ones by Maxim Gorky (1971), Solo for Striking Clock by Oswald Zagradnik (in association with Anatoly Vasiliev, 1973), Ivanov (1976), The Seagull (1980), Uncle Vanya (1985) by Anton Chekhov. At the same time a contemporary theme was also worked out. Authors Alexander Gelman (A Meeting of the Party Committee, 1975; We the Undersigned, 1979; The Bench, 1984; and others) and Mikhail Roshchin (Valentin and Valentina, 1972; The Echelon, 1975; Perlaceous Zinaida, 1987; and others) continuously worked with the Theatre. Yefremov staged plays by Mikhail Shatrov and Aleksandr Misharin. The company included Innokenty Smoktunovsky, Aleksandr Kalyagin, Tatiana Doronina, Andrey Popov, Andrey Myagkov, Tatiana Lavrova, Yevgeny Yevstegneyev, Yekaterina Vasilieva, and Oleg Tabakov. Theatre artists David Borovsky, Valery Levental and others worked on the plays. However, it was quite difficult to unite the growing company. It was necessary to provide the actors with some work, and as the result the Theatre had to agree for many plays and different directors which also resulted in many routine plays. In the 1980s, several significant performances were staged by famous directors such as Anatoly Efros (Tartuffe by Moliere, 1981), Lev Dodin (A Gentle Creature by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1985), Mark Rozovsky (Amadeus by Peter Shaffer, 1983), Kama Ginkas (The Toast Master by Aleksandr Galin, 1986 г.), and others. However, the Theatre did not have a general creative programme. Dissension in the Theatre resulted in a conflict. In 1987, the Theatre's family divided into two individual groups. One of them was directed by Oleg Yefremov (since 1989, the Chekhov Moscow Art Academic Theatre, 3 Kamergersky Lane), another one by Tatiana Doronina (the Gorky Moscow Art Academic Theatre, 22 Tverskoy Boulevard).

After Oleg Yefremov died in 2000, Oleg Tabakov became the art director of the Theatre and headed for renewal of the repertoire and company. He has placed his stake on both classical drama including Hamlet, The Cherry Orchard, The Golovlyov Family, The White Guard, King Lear, Tartuffe and contemporary Russian and foreign drama. The company comprises Olga Yakovleva, Avangard Leontiev, Alla Pokrovskaya, Valery Khlevinsky, Konstantin Khabensky, Mikhail Porechenkov, Vladimir Krasnov, and others. The best directors such as Yuri Butosov, Sergey Zhenovach, Mindaugas Karbauskis, Kirill Serebrennikov, Adolf Shapiro, Temur Chkheidze stage the shows. In 2001, the third or the New scene was opened. It is specially designed for pilot performances.

In 2004, the Theatre was again renamed the Moscow Art Theatre with the word "Academic" omitted.

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Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre

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