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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


“…The Theater Begins With the Cloakroom”
This phrase is attributed to one of the founders of the Moscow Chekhov Art Theater; Konstantin Stanislavsky. It is believed that he wrote in a letter to the cloakroom staff of his theater that: “…our theater differs from many others by the fact that performances start the minute members of audiences enter the theatre. You are the first to greet them…” Our acquaintance with Moscow theaters begins with a map. This guide will help you find the theatres and provide you with contact details, standard repertoires, and some background history.
Text Marina Lukanina, photos Oleg Migachev

Bolshoi Theater, 1, Teatralnaya Ploshad
Metro stations:
Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya
+7(495) 292-92-70

The Bolshoi Theater
is without doubt the most famous stage in Russia. It is especially popular among the expat community for the incredible opera and ballet performed there. Its user-friendly website with an English option ( will provide you with its current repertoire. You can buy tickets online.

Among popular repertoires at the Bolshoi are the opera Tosca, the ballets Giselle, Don Quixote and Spartacus. I was particularly impressed by the Bolshoi production of Musorgsky’s “Boris Godunov.” It is an incredible 5-act production consisting of nine scenes. The opera runs for 3 hours and 40 minutes but you don’t notice the time due to the intensity of the plot and the mastery of the actors. Currently the main building of the Bolshoi Theater is closed for renovation and productions are performed on the New Stage located on the left as you look at main building.

Next to the Bolshoi is the State Academic Malyi Theater. There is a monument to the well-known Russian play-writer, Alexander Ostrovsky next to the main entrance. Ostrovsky wrote 48 plays and all of them were staged at this theater at some point. This is one the oldest Russian theaters, and was founded by the Russian Emperess, Elizaveta in the 18th century. This was originally called the Emperor Theater and its company consisted of Moscow State University students. In 1824 it was housed in its own separate building.

Maly Theater
1/6 Teatralnaya Ploshad
Metro stations:
Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya
7(495) 623-26-21

9A, Chistoprudny Blvd
Metro stations:
Chistyye Prudy, Turgenevskaya
7(495) 628-77-49
The Chisti Prudi area is a home for the Sovremennik Theater. Its artistic director, Galina Volchek, is a famous actress and director. The theater was founded in 1956 by another famous Russian actor and director Oleg Efremov. After Efremov left to manage the Moscow Chekhov Art Theater, Volchek took over at Sovremennik.

Sovremennik was the first Russian theater which was invited on a tour to Broadway in 1996 with its masterpieces – Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard” and “Three Sisters” and a modern play by Evgeniy Ginzburg: “The Steep Route.” Sovremennik received the American National Theater Prize “Drama Desk Award.” It was the first time that this coveted US prize was awarded to a foreign theater.

The current repertoire is diverse. You can see plays by Chekhov and Griboedov along with Tennessee Williams and Bernard Shaw. The latest innovation was to invite four young directors, let them stage their first plays and invite the public in to judge them. Tickets can be bought: on-line at: , directly from the theater box office or by phone or e-mail.

Chekhov Moscow Art Theater
3, Kamergersky Pereulok
Metro Station: Okhotny Ryad
7(495)629-87-60, 7(495) 692-67-48

The Chekhov Moscow Art Theater is on Kamergerski Pereulok. This is one of the oldest theaters in Russia and is well-known internationally. The theatre’s founders – Konstantin Stanislavky and Vladmir Nemirovich- Danchenko – are exceptional figures in the history of theatre. The famous “Stanislavky System” – the actor’s system of working on his/her role quickly became popular internationally. The theatre’s existence began with a meeting of Stanislavky and Nemirovich- Danchenko at the “Slaviansky Bazaar” restaurant on June 19th, 1897. The theatre was opened on October 14, 1898 with the play “Tsar Fedor Ioanovich” in the “Hermitage” theatre building (Karetny Ryad, 3). From 1902, the theatre has been located on Kamergersky Pereulok in a building reconstructed the same year by architect Fedor Shekhtel.

The real rise of the theater is tied up with Anton Chekhov’s drama (“The Seagull,” 1898; “Uncle Vanya,” 1899; “Three Sisters,” 1901; “The Cherry Orchard,” 1904) and with Maxim Gorky (“The Petty Bourgeoisie” and “Lower Depths,” 1902). The theater was in a real artistic crisis in the 1970s until Oleg Efremov took over as its new Artistic Director and breathed a new life into the theater. After Efremov’s death in 2,000, Oleg Tabakov became the Artistic Director. He began with renewing the repertoire (by staging classics such as “Hamlet,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “The Golovev’s,” “The White Guard,” “King Lear,” and “Tartuffe” as well as modern patriotic and world literature). Several outstanding actors were invited to join the troupe – Olga Yakovleva, Avangard Leontiev, Konstantin Khabensky, and others. Some of the most creative forces in modern directing were drawn to direct the shows — Sergei Zhenovach, Kirill Serebrennikov, Timur Chkheidze. The theater web-site will tell you more about itself even in English -

Oleg Tabakov is one of the most capable people in Russian theatre. He runs not only the Moscow Chekhov’s Art Theater but also a theater called Theater-Studio, founded in 1986. Theatre-Studio is in a tiny basement on Chaplygina st., yet it is one of the most visited theaters in Moscow.

The theater repertoire is a good mix of classical and modern plays – both Russian and foreign. According to Tabakov’s words, his theater is a “normal, Russian, traditional, realistic, psychological theater.” Tickets can be bought online; however, you still need to go to the theater prior the performance to get your actual tickets. Electronic tickets at the Moscow theaters have not caught on yet. Please refer to the theater web-site for further information at

Moscow Mayakovsky
Academic Theater

19, Bolshaya Nikitskaya
Metro Station: Arbatskaya
7(495) 690 46 58
Passing along Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street, you will inevitably notice the Moscow Mayakovsky Academic Theater which is now in its 86th season. The theater was originally built in 1886 and used for foreign tour groups. In 1922 it was named the Theater of the Revolution. Vsevolod Meierkhold became its director.

The current director is Sergei Artsibashev who took over after almost a 30-year stint by Andrey Goncharov; a very famous theater director. Under Goncharov’s supervision, the theater staged Chekov’s ”Seagull,” Ostrovky’s “The last victim,” and Ibsen’s “Doll House.” Artsibashev’s three latest plays are Gogol’s “Marriage” (his first production as the Artistic Director), Dostoevky’s “The Karamazov Brothers” and again Gogol’s “Dead Souls.” The theater web-site is user-friendly; you can purchase the tickets online and have them delivered to your office or your house

Two more venues should be added to our Moscow Theater Map: The Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow ( at Karetnyi Ryad, 6 and the Stanislavki Music Theater ( on Bolshaya Dmitrovka 17. Both theaters have diverse music repertoires of ballets and operas.

Novaya Opera
3 Ul. Karetny Ryad
Metro Stations: Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya, Mayakovskaya
7(495) 694-08-68
Stanislavsky Music Theater
17 Ul. Bolshaya Dmitrovka
Metro stations: Chekhovskaya, Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya
7(495) 629-28-35

If you are already lost in a sea of theaters in Moscow, there are two web-sites that will be able to assist you – and

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