On December 18, 2006, Yevgeny Mironov became Artistic Director of the State Theater of Nations. The artistic director is the organizer of the Theater's entire suite of creative and production activities, responsible for its critical and commercial success. He ascertains the quality of the repertoire, judges the readiness of productions and makes decisions on their public performance.
The Theater is located in the heart of Moscow, in the building originally erected for the famous Korsh's Theater. Korsh's, one of the first privately-owned Russian theaters, moved into the Petrovsky building in 1885. There it functioned as a privately-owned theater until 1925 and as the State Comedy Theater until 1932, at which time the building was given over to the Moscow Art Theater's subsidiary stage, later to be known as the Gorky Moscow Art Theater. In 1987, The Friendship of Nations Theater, then based in Tverskoi Boulevard, exchanged locations with the Gorky, and in 1991 changed its name to the Theater of Nations. The Theater has no resident acting company.
The Theater has recently concluded its 5-year reconstruction effort. The grand opening of the new building took place on September 15, 2011. The remodeled theater opened its doors to the public in December with Thomas Ostermeier's production of August Strindberg's Miss Julie starring Yevgeny Mironov.
In its present form, the Theater of Nations may be characterized as a dedicated space for the experiments of local and international directors. It is, in the words of its new Artistic Director, "an educational center for the new generation of theater."
The creative strategy for the Theater's ongoing activities takes several important directions:
1. Conducting national and multinational arts festivals;
2. Preserving the cultural ties between Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union;
3. Introducing local audiences to notable achievements of the international art scene in its many forms;
4. Providing experimental grounds for young actors and directors.
In addition, in 2010 the State Ministry of Culture granted the Theater of Nations a contract to develop a multistep program geared towards the advancement of theatrical culture in the Russian provinces. Every month the Theater will choose a small town to visit with activities that include professional criticism of local productions, readings of new plays, master classes and seminars. The program was set in motion in December of 2010.
Among the multigenre festivals initiated by the Theater are such conspicuous projects as the Opera Parade and the Opera Panorama, Russia's National Treasure and the Mini-Avignon, the Window to the Netherlands and the Strindberg in Moscow, the Russian-Turkish festival of contemporary dramaturgy and the Japanese drum shows. Others, more modest in name but no less important in their objectives, are the Small-Town Theaters of Russia Festival and Theater Town, which exports to the capital not just one creative group but the theater activities of an entire town – the first festival to pave the way to Moscow for many provincial theaters.
The Theater of Nations was Russia's pioneer in the advancement of modern dance, conducting the first two international contemporary-dance festivals locally in 1993 and 1995. The support it provided to the brightest stars of Russia's newborn contemporary-dance movement (Yevgeny Panfilov, Tatiana Baganova, Olga Bavdilovich) played a significant role in the establishment of the new genre in this country. The world's dance companies hosted by the Theater have included the Centre Chorégraphique National de Nantes, the José Limón Dance Foundation, Belgium's Les Ballets C de la B, Paul Frenac's Parisian troupe, the Dutch companies of Anouk van Dijk, Krisztina de Châtel, Karin Holl and Introdans, the Random Dance Company of U.K., the Japanese Sankai Juku performing Butoh, NorrDans of Sweden, France's Centre Chorégraphique National-Ballet Biarritz under the direction of Thierry Malandain, Japan's H. Art Chaos modern-dance theater and the dance company of Regis Abadia.
Having launched the festival of contemporary dance, the Theater of Nations set it at large, as has been the case with many of its other projects. The Hersones Games, The Moscow Performance International Music and Theater Festival of Authentic Arts, the international festival of one-actor shows, and other events that are now an integral part of Russia's cultural landscape, owe their conception to the Theater of Nation's initiative and effort. The originality and flexibility of its structure and, therefore, of its objectives and possibilities, allow the Theater to take its activities to any geographical location that suits its artistic purposes. Thus, it took the Summer of Theater festival on the road to the city of Krasnodar; Samara was the chosen site for the Opera Panorama and the Okinawa multicultural festival; London hosted Hard Currency, a festival of Russian theater; and the traditional Moscow locale of the Small-Town Theaters of Russia Festival was passed over for the town of Lysva, with select performances then presented at the capital.
The Theater is also the headquarters for one of the most significant of Russia's theatrical events – The TERRITORIЯ Festival, one of whose founding fathers is Yevgeny Mironov.
In 2009 the Theater introduced the all-new Shekspir@Shakespeare Festival, which opened on October 5 with Israel's Cameri Theater's Hamlet, staged by director-in-residence Omri Nitzan.
The Theater of Nations' artistic résumé boasts a list of touring shows whose presentation to local audiences would do any production center proud. Among them are Shakespeare's King Lear and Robert Sturua's legendary production of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle from the Tbilisi Rustaveli Theater; Chekov's Uncle Vanya and Vadim Korostylyov's Pirosmani, Pirosmani from Eimuntas Nekrošius (The Lithuanian Youth Theater); Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard from Peter Brook (Brooklyn Academy of Music); Fedor Abramov's Brothers and Sisters from Lev Dodin (The St. Petersburg Maly Dramatic Theater); Gregory Kanovich's Smile upon Us, Lord from the State Small Theater of Vilnius (directed by Rimas Tuminas); Marivaux' La Surprise de l'amour from Jean-Pierre Vincent (Théâtre des Amandiers Nanterre); Madame Marguerite, French artist Annie Girardeau's one-woman show; productions by the traditional Japanese Noh Theater; and many, many others.
Theater of Nations' original productions
The Theater has been actively producing its own shows since it premiered Andrii Zholdak's staging of An Experiment in Assimilating "The Seagull" by the Stanislavsky Method in 2001 as part of the World Theater Olympics. Today, the Theater casts its lot with young directorial talent and continues its collaboration with renowned directors. Bullfinches, based on the Victor Astafiev novel The Cursed and the Slain, is popular with both audiences and critics. The Theater's recent original productions of Chekhov's short story The Swedish Matchstick (directed by Nikita Grinshpun) and Carmen. Exodus (directed by Andrii Zholdak) were notable events in the theatrical life of Moscow.
Three of the Theater of Nations' productions have been nominated for the National Golden Mask Theater Awards in the past: Flies by the young dancer-choreographers Anna Abalikhina and Dina Husein, for Best Production and Best Female Dancer in the Modern Dance category, 2006; Andrii Zholdak's Phaedra: Golden Braid, for Best Director, Best Design, and Best Actress in the Small-Scale Dramatic Production category, 2007; and Nikita Grinshpun's The Swedish Matchstick for Best Production and Best Actor in the Small-Scale Dramatic Production category, 2009. The Best Actress Golden Mask went to Maria Mironova for the role of Phaedra. The Swedish Matchstick was the 2008 recepient of the Crystal Turandot Theater Award in the Debut of the Year category; in 2010, that award went to Sagas Khapsasova for her performance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Shukshin's Stories received three Crystal Turandot awards in 2009 and three Golden Mask awards in 2010.
The Theater's 2008-2009 season opened with internationally acclaimed actor-director Peter Stein's one-man show, Faust Fantasia, as part of the Theater's Project: Names. The same project introduced one of the most anticipated events of the season – the Moscow tour of actress-playwright Marina Vlady's Vladimir or the Aborted Flight, about her life with the Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky. In October the Theater presented Letters to Felice, the story of Franz Kafka's tragic love staged by the young director Kirill Sbitnev. A co-production, with the TERRITORIЯ Festival, of the choreographed novella Poor Liza, based on Nikolai Karamzin's story and staged by Alla Sigalova, opened in February. Critics and audiences concurred that the Theater's production of Shukshin's Stories, directed by Latvia's Alvis Hermanis, was the hit of Moscow's theater season.
The 2009-2010 season at the Theater was marked by two premieres: Yavor Gyrdev's production of Jordi Galceran's The Grönholm Method and the musical Romeo and Juliet directed by Vladimir Pankov (a Chrystal Turandot Award for Sagas Khapsasova's Juliet).
The Theater's 2010-2011 season began on September 12 with the production of Hamlet by Thomas Ostermeier and the Schaubühne Berlin. In November, Shukshin's Stories toured Russia and France as part of the Unknown Siberia Festival conducted by the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund. Yavor Gyrdev returned to direct the Theater's first new production of the season, Killer Joe by the American playwright Tracy Letts, followed by Eimuntas Nekrošius' long-anticipated staging of Albert Camus' Caligula with Yevgeny Mironov in the title role. The Kudmykar Theater of the Komi Republic, winner of the 2010 Small-Town Theaters of Russia Festival, presented its award-winning production on the Theater of Nations' stage. The Theater's hit show Shukshin's Stories continued its triumphant world tour, and Caligula had its European premiere at the Villa Adriana Festival in Tivoli, Italy in July. The latest young director to join the Theater's repertory was Toufan Imamoutdinov with two productions – Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West, which closed the season in March of 2011, and Shosha, which opened the 2011-2012 season.
The Theater's remodeled stage offers technological possibilities unique among Russia's theater halls. The first to take advantage of these was Thomas Ostermeier with Miss Julie, closely followed by Andrei Moguchii's Circo Ambulante in January of 2012. Starting January 21, Yevgeny Mironov's Figaro. The Events of One Day also acquires a permanent home in the Theater's new building and repertory.
The Theater of Nations is open to suggestions for collaboration and is always interested in new projects in the various genres of both classical and contemporary stagecraft. If you have a proposal, please call 7-495-629-7777.