Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Yekaterinburg's Young Spectator Theatre: Russia's "third cultural center"

Natalya Druzhinina, the director of development for Yekaterinburg's Young Spectator Theater, said Yekaterinburg is Russia's "third cultural center" after Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Druzhinina said the Kolyada Theater, Provincial Dances Company and Young Spectator Theater contribute to the cultural wealth of Yekaterinburg, The Moscow Times reports.

The Young Spectator Theater's motto is "from childhood and forever," highlighting its mission as a children's theater. The theatre mounts performances for children ages three to five, ages that most other theaters have no programming for. Druzhinina said the theatre attempts to "conduct a serious conversation even from this small age," according to The Moscow Times.

The theater's target age ranges from eight to 12. It also features special programs for teenagers. The theater invites them to participate in a theatrical disco each Christmas and New Year.

The theater has earned a national reputation working with such directors as Anatoly Praudin in the 1990s and Vyacheslav Kokorin in the early 2000s. The company has staged memorable productions of non-children's theater as well, The Moscow Times reports.

Under Kokorin's leadership, the theater instituted the Behind the Concrete Wall program, which staged programs for adults over the age of 18. Most of the programs were contemporary drama, both Russian and foreign, and the theatre featured the first production of the Presnyakov brothers' "Playing the Victim."

Druzhinina said the program is popular with university students, as well as individuals interested in contemporary drama, adding that the theater was the first in Yekaterinburg to begin doing seminars on contemporary drama in 2001, according to The Moscow Times.

Also, with a grant from the city, the theater has begun a new project called Theater Near the School Blackboard, which produces short performances based on required reading assigned to students in school.The performances are 45 minutes long and are intended to make classical books easier to understand for children.

The Yekaterinburg Young Spectator Theater also hosts the Real Theater festival, which was created in 1990 and is considered one of the three most important festivals on the Russian national theater circuit.

Druzhinina said the goal of the event is not to focus on "stars or famous names from Moscow or St. Petersburg," but to feature Russian theatre, The Moscow Times reports.