(Marina Shimadina’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 4/15.)
One of Moscow’s leading theaters, the Sovremennik, is marking its 60th anniversary. The theater, which was founded in the year when Stalin’s personality cult and purges were exposed, continues to appeal to ordinary people and attract new audiences on its tours to Europe and America.
April 15 marked the 60th anniversary for one of Moscow’s leading theaters, the Sovremennik, one of the main symbols of the “thaw,” a period of relative democratization under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s).
The theater, whose name translates as “The Contemporary,” was the first in the USSR in many years to be set up not on an order from above but on the initiative of a group of young actors, who graduated from the Moscow Art Theater (MKhT) School-Studio. Their manifesto was driven by opposition to their alma mater, the official and ponderous MKhT.
Director Oleg Yefremov and his team of actors sought to revive the ideals of the original Moscow Art Theater and Konstantin Stanislavsky’s ideas of “living theater.”