(Marina Shimadina’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 8/30.)

St. Petersburg’s storied Alexandrinsky Theater and its well-known artistic director Valery Fokin are celebrating a double anniversary in 2016. Fokin spoke to RBTH about the state of theater in the country, and how he is trying to forge closer cultural ties with Russia’s neighbors despite the political climate.

The Alexandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg turns 260 this year, making it the oldest theater in Russia. Founded on Aug. 30, 1756 on the personal order of Empress Elizabeth, the first state-owned theater in the Empire would go on to become a model for most other Russian theaters, with a permanent professional troupe, a fixed repertoire and financial support provided by the state.

The theater has now been headed for over a decade by director Valery Fokin, who by happy coincidence also celebrated a significant birthday this year – he turned 70 on Feb. 28. It was Fokin who managed to transform the “Alexandrinka” from an archaic theatrical backwater into one of Russia’s most flourishing cultural venues.


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