Moscow Art Theatre



  • The world-famous theater in Moscow, founded as a cooperativein 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavsky, who oversaw staging andproduction, and the playwright and director V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko(1859 - 1943), who was in charge of the administration. Its aimwas to produce works using the naturalistic style of acting that becameStanislavsky's hallmark.

    The opening production was Alexei Tolstoy's Tsar FyodorIvanovich, a historical drama about the son of Ivan the Terrible,which was staged using authentic sets and costumes. Stanislavsky'sproductions of Chekhov were responsible for making the playwright'sname and, less happily, for establishing the rather ponderous styleof presenting his plays that held sway until quite recently. A successfulrevival of the The Seagull in the theater's first year wasfollowed by productions of Uncle Vanya (1899), ThreeSisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904); the lasttwo were written specially for the theater. Gorki's masterpiece ofnaturalism The Lower Depths had its first production therein 1902.

    The Moscow Art Theatre company survived the revolution andcivil war to tour Europe and America in 1922 - 23. Works presentedin the post-revolutionary era included plays by Vsevolod Ivanov andMikhail Bulgakov, whose The Days of Turbins (1926) proved anirritant to the Bolshevik authorities. Bulgakov later satirized thetheater in his banned novel Black Snow (1936). During the ColdWar period the theater was largely used as a showcase for Soviet culturalachievement. In 1973 the company moved into larger premises, retainingits existing base and drama school. Since 1985 the two halves of thecompany have functioned virtually independently of each other.