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Russian Theatre Digest - February 2014

Golden Mask 2014 / President Putin held Culture Councils meeting on Russian theatres / St. Petersburg government to double subsidies for independent theatres / In memory of Vsevolod Meyerhold/ Hermitage museum to create collection of radio plays

Golden Mask – 2014

Golden Mask, the National Theatre Award and contest, has opened in Moscow. The festival’s task is to sum up the results of the theatre season and to award the best productions and the best theatre workers. That is why it is a much anticipated event for all Russian theatres.

This year Golden Mask marks its 20th anniversary and has a larger number of productions and projects. In total, the experts’ council watched 767 plays and selected 72 for the competition. The list of nominees is available at http://eng.goldenmask.ru/gm.php?id=114

Experts note that it is getting more difficult every year to distribute productions for different nominations because interesting productions often emerge at the confluence of traditional genres of theatre art such as opera, drama, ballet, operetta, puppetry and musical. One of the contest’s new rules is that music productions using lips singing are not accepted for the competition. The results of the Golden Mask contest will be announced at the closing ceremony at the Bolshoi theatre on April 18.

President Putin held Culture Council’s meeting on Russian theatres


2014 has been declared as the Year of Culture in Russia. In this respect in early February President Vladimir Putin held an enlarged meeting of the presidium of the presidential Council on culture and arts in the city of Pskov to discuss the development of national theatre. At the same time the 21st International Pushkin Theatre festival was underway at the stage of the Pskov drama theatre that had opened after the completion of its restoration.

The meeting gathered about 40 leading theatre professionals including stage directors, actors, artistic directors, critics and ministerial officials. The main issues on the agenda concerned the situation in repertory theatres which still represent the majority of Russian theatres and are financed from the state budget. A special attention was paid to the development of theaters for children and teenagers. This discussion was darkened by recent reports about a shooting in one of Moscow schools.

St. Petersburg government to double subsidies for independent theatres


According to the head of the St. Petersburg Culture Committee, in 2014 non-state funded theatres and independent theatre projects will receive 72.5 million rubles from the city government. This is twice as much in comparison with the funding they received last year. The subsidies will be distributed in accordance with the decision of the regional theatre experts. As of today, St Petersburg is the only region in Russia where non-state funded theatres are supported on permanent basis. Last year, in total 170 non-commercial organizations received subsidies from the regional authorities.

In memory of Vsevolod Meyerhold


February 9 marked the 140th anniversary since the birth of Vsevolod Meyerhold. This great theatre reformer and experimental director became one of the victims of the Stalin regime. He was arrested as an “enemy of the people” in 1938 and executed by firing squad in 1940. In 1955, he was cleared of all charges posthumously. 

Annually the Vsevolod Meyerhold center in Moscow holds a festival dedicated to the work, life and tragedy of this stage director. This year among its participants are - the Bolshoi Drama Theatre (St. Petersburg), the Praktika theatre, the Gogol Center and the Theatre doc (Moscow), the Vsevolod Meyerhold center from Kherson (Ukraine) as well as stage directors Klim and Dmitry Volkostrelov. The festival’s theme is “Meyerhold is me.”

One more remarkable event celebrating the 140th anniversary since the birth of Vsevolod Meyerhold took place at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The theatre has held nights in memory of Meyerhold annually for decades theatre historians, actors, directors, musicians, librarians, museum keepers and theater lovers. This year about 150 people representing the theatre elite of the city attended the event. The night was dedicated to Vsevolod Meyerhold and also to Mikhail Kuzmin, a poet and composer of the Silver Age (early 20th century). During the night the music Mikhail Kuzmin wrote for Meyerhold’s first production of “Masquerade” (Mikhail Lermontov's play) in 1911, was performed.

Hermitage museum to create collection of radio plays


The state Hermitage museum and the Radio of Russia radio station have announced a joint project which is to coincide with the 250th anniversary the museum is marking this year. The project implies production of 25 mini radio plays based on the masterpieces of the world painting which are part of the Hermitage’s vast collection.

The authors of future radio plays are free to choose the genre for their work. The contest will have three stages. First, directors, scriptwriters and sound producers choose a painting and present a script of their radio play. Then they work on the production. Finally, the jury sums up the results of the contest.  The list of award winners will be complete by June 15. The Radio of Russia will broadcast the productions of all the participants. The contest’ winners will be also awarded with a trip to Berlin to the Prix Europe festival which is to take place in October 2014.

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