the Sovremennik Theatre
Many Moscow theatres have a meandering way, but Sovremennik is an outstanding one. It was created due to the fortunate circumstances and achieved prosperity in spite of all the setbacks.
The theatre was founded in 1956, in a landmark year for the whole Soviet society: the period when the Thaw started. A new team of young actors from the Moscow Art Theatre School was going to create a theatre which was to be fundamentally innovative in its management style. An authorized council of actors was established to cooperate with the director of the theatre Oleg Yefremov and to choose plays for performances, assign the main roles, carry out all internal and external policies of the theatre. It was a team of real adherents, talented individuals: Oleg Efremov, Evgeni Evstigneev, Igor Kvasha, Oleg Tabakov, Galina Volchek. The first performance of Sovremennik was the play “Eternally Alive” by Victor Rozov. Over the next 15 years the history of Sovremennik was associated basically with these great playwrights: Rozov, Volodin, Schwartz, Tendriakov, Vampilov. To buy a ticket to Sovremennik in those days meant to get acquainted with the best of modern drama.
The cornerstone of the new theatre was a sincerity of performance which returned "a living person" to the stage. “Sovremennik” means “Contemporary” or “Modern”. So it was truly a Modern theatre with modern audience, modern language, modern plays. Most of the pieces from the repertoire were written specifically for this stage and brought a glory in great drama to their authors – Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Nikolai Kolyada and Alexander Galin.
…But Sovremennik was associated with these talented authors much later. And earlier, at the end of the 60-ies, the theatre experienced an acute crisis. The Thaw ended and the generation of the 60-ies became to live much harder. Censorship tightened, relations with the authorities worsened. Efremov was tired of “battling with windmills” and left to lead the Moscow Art Theatre. A demise of Sovremennik was predicted… But the theatre managed to survive and got back to the highest level!
Its revival came true thanks to Galina Volchek. Becoming in 1972 the theatre's artistic director, Volchek started to work hard on its rebirth. The company adopted new talents – Valentin Gaft, Liya Akhedzhakova, Marina Neyolova. Cooperation with new authors brought new genres to the theatre. Dramatizations of prose works became popular (for example "Journey Into the Whirlwind " by Eugenia Ginsburg and "Don't Shoot the White Swans” by Boris Vassilyev). Classic plays coexist with works of young authors. The theatre has a lot of foreign tours making a name for itself abroad. Now Sovremennik is one of the most respected theatres in Moscow. And every self-respecting theatre-goer is to visit it periodically.