Taganka Theatre



  • The popular name for the Moscow Theatre of Drama and Comedy,Taganka being the suburb in which it is located. Founded in 1946,it has enjoyed a reputation as the most experimental and controversialtheater in Russia since the mid 1960s. Under Yuri Lyubimov,who took over in 1964, the Taganka won the loyalty of students andyoung playgoers but aroused official disapproval by staging worksthat were critical of Soviet values. Lyubimov was also criticizedfor employing 'formalistic' production techniques, such as the useof dance, mime, projections, puppets, and masks. The authorities bannedor censored several of the Taganka's offerings. In 1977 the companywas given permission to tour internationally. Finally, while workingabroad in 1984, Lyubimov was removed as head of the theater and strippedof his citizenship.

    His replacement was another highly controversial director, Anatoly Efros(1925 - 87), whose productions at other theaters had often been censored.When he died, a loyal communist, Nikolai Gubenko (1941 - ), was appointed to run the theater, which nevertheless benefitted greatly fromthe new era of glasnost. In 1989 Gubenko was named Soviet Ministerof Culture - the first professional artist to hold this post sincethe 1920s - and Lyubimov was reappointed to his old position at theTaganka. The subsequent decade proved as stormy as any in the theater's past. In 1991 Gubenko publicly denounced his successor, set up a rivalCommunity of Taganka Actors with disaffected members of the company, and demanded a share of the theater building and other assets. A bitter strugglefollowed, culminating in Gubenko's occupation of the building with the protection of a state militia unit in July 1993. After a long and tortuouslegal process the theater was eventually restored to Lyubimov.