Theatres

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The theatre is currently managed by Teresa Durova, the daughter of well-known animal trainers from a famous circus family. As a child, Durova often performed with her parents. Aged 21, she left the circus to study at the Stage and Circus Directing Faculty of the Russian University of Theatre Arts (GITIS). The history of Teresa Durova's theatre dates back to 1991, when she organized the first International Clowns Festival in Moscow. The theatre has a broad and diverse repertoire catering mainly to young children. Most productions are based on well-known children's literary classics such as "Winnie the Pooh" ("Vinni Pukh"), "The Tinderbox" ("Ognivo") and "The Twelve Months" ("Dvenadtsat Mesyatsev"). Most performances are theatrical plays, although they always have a connection with circus acts such as clowns, pantomime, acrobatics and magic tricks. This is not high theatre; yet the clowns' performances are more complex and subtle than those in a circus. The Teatrium owes most of its fame to the foreign acts it showcases during festivals and other events. Since 2006, it has also been home to the Gavroche large and fascinating international annual children's theatre festival. As the main organiser of this event, the Teatrium attempts to cover diverse geographical areas when compiling the programme. In 2007, the festival saw a wide variety of French plays, in 2008 it included a wealth of Italian performances, and in 2009 the focus was on Sweden. Besides covering a full spectrum of old and new dramatic forms, the festival includes special projects for children with learning difficulties. The Swedish Silent Theatre, for instance, performs plays for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the XZART junior theatre from France allows children with Down's syndrome to enjoy theatre.

All plays at this small private theatre culminate in a joyful feast, as audiences devour food prepared during the performance. Teatr Vkusa (Theatre of Taste) does not work purely to feed its young visitors, however; rather, it aims to help them learn about the world and to understand the significance of home and family. At present, the theatre does not have its own stage and gives performances at a number of venues. The Domik Fanni Bell Theatre in the Bauman Garden, for instance, hosts the extremely popular "Tales from Mother's Bag" ("Skazki iz Maminoi Sumki") (2+). This production is directed by Marfa Gorvits and Alexandra Lovyannikova, recent graduates of the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) who have already become well-recognized for their work. Directed by Yury Makeyev, Teatr Vkusa's artistic director, "The Family Bakery" ("Semeynaya Pekarnya") is also running at the Domik Fanni Bell Theatre. A play about bread-baking traditions, this focuses on the 150-year history of a certain French recipe. During the performance, the children learn to make their own crusty bread using this recipe, whilst simultaneously learning about the ingredients needed for family happiness. The "Venice Story" ("Venetsianskaya Istoriya") carnival play directed by Yury Makeev can be caught at various outdoor venues in parks, public squares and boulevards. The theatre also offers the Cook & Talk children's cookery master-classes in English, as well as the "Tasty School" ("Vkusnaya Shkola") cookery classes in Russian. At these classes children can learn to bake bread and gingerbread and to make ravioli and pizza in a playful environment.
This independent troupe of recent graduates from various Moscow drama and arts schools focuses exclusively on plays for children. Lacking its own stage, the troupe stages productions at several prestigious venues in the Russian capital including the Meyerhold Centre, the Praktika Theatre and the Domik Fanni Bell Theatre.

As young people, the members of the troupe are constantly seeking new forms. Their plays have nothing of the old-fashioned directors' techniques so often present in children's theatre. The repertoire is not huge, but changes regularly and includes some excellent productions. Currently showing are the puppet play "The Fly Tsokotukha" ("Mukha-Tsokotukha") staged as a tea party (2+); the educational astronomy performance "Space, or To the Ends of the Universe" ("Kosmos, ili na Kray Vselennoy") (7+); the Christmas story play "The Story of One Miracle" ("Istoriya Odnogo Chuda") (4+); "The True Stories of Sinbad from Baghdad" ("Pravdiviye Istorii Sindbada iz Bagdada") (6+) based on the "Arabian Nights."

The troupe also works to revive the forgotten tradition of home theatre and is happy to bring its productions to those who invite them into their homes.
This is a young theatre with two main repertoires: new Russian drama and plays for children. Opened in 2005, in 10 years it has seen two strong artistic directors and retained its image as a trendy, modern theatre for comfortably off audiences that are not against new forms, topics and language. The theatre's efforts in working with new drama are not as significant as its successes with children's plays. Twice, the theatre has invited the famous French director Joël Pommerat. His first production with Praktika (Practice) was "This Child" ("Etot Rebyonok"), a play that looks at family conflict and the problems facing adolescents. This was followed by an equally complex and somber "Pinocchio" for children aged 8-12. A striking view of just how tragic the world can sometimes appear to children, Pommerat's "Pinocchio" also uses complex stage design and special effects. Currently, the theatre is showing a production of "Cinderella" ("Zolushka"), a play by Joël Pommerat staged by Marfa Gorvits for children aged 13+. Here, the well-known fairy tale is used as the base to open a public discussion around children's psychological trauma and other mental health issues facing teenagers. Eduard Boyakov and Philipp Grigoryan's "Agatha Returns Home" ("Agata Vozvraschayetsya Domoy" (8+) is based on Linor Goralik's story about an eight-year-old girl who learns to make serious decision, resist temptation and live with her sense of guilt about her parents. Besides experimental plays about children's mental health issues, Praktika's repertoire includes a variety of other productions. Alisa Grebenshchikova's solo show "The Hedgehog and the Baby Bear" ("Yozhik i Medvezhonok") (4+) revisits a popular children's book by Sergey Kozlov. Based on ancient Russian texts, "Peter and Fevronia of Murom" (“Pyotr i Fevroniya Muromskiye”) (10+) is set to music by Alexander Manotskov, one of Russia's leading composers.

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The first children's opera and ballet theatre in the world, the Children's Music Theater Named After Natalya Sats was founded by Sats in 1965. Prior to this, Natalya Sats had already accomplished the heroic task of establishing the world's first children's theatre in Moscow in 1921 (today this is the Russian Academic Youth Theatre). In 1979, a special building was constructed near Moscow University for her musical theatre. On the roof is a sculpture of the "Blue Bird" from Konstantin Stanislavsky's legendary play, the music for which was composed by Natalya's father, Ilya Sats. Following the death of Natalya Sats, the theatre fell into a slump. Only with the arrival in 2010 of a new artistic director, Georgy Isaakyan from the famous Perm Opera, did it begin to recover. Star directors such as Vladimir Vasilyev, Nikolay Tsiskaridze, Andris Liepa and Dmitry Bertman began to be drawn to the theatre. One of Isaakyan's first moves was to invite young stage artists from the Dmitry Krymov Lab to work on a joint production of "The Love for Three Oranges." The play brought the theatre its first Golden Mask, Russia's main theatre award. Since then, the theatre has constantly been seeking new forms, experimenting and creating great music for all ages, from "The Little House" ("Teremok") based on works by Samuil Marshak to the Handel opera "Alcina, or the Magical Island", from the Tchaikovsky ballet "Swan Lake" to a dance version of Sherlock Holmes. Musicals are a relatively new phenomenon at the theatre, and have already become popular.

Trickster is a small independent theatre company founded by a director duo who are a couple: Maria Litvinova and Vyacheslav Ignatov. Working jointly on some productions, for others, the couple go their separate ways. Their first steps were taken in the Ten puppet theatre with the play "The Epos of the Lilikans" ("Epos o Lilikane"), awarded a Golden Mask, and at the trendy hipster Praktika Theatre, where they staged "The Story that Was Never Written" ("Skazka, Kotoraya Ne Byla Napisana") based on the writing of Linor Goralik. The couple then decided to open their own theatre. Trickster does not have its own stage, but its website gives a list of all upcoming performances at various Moscow venues. Currently Trickster is showing three children's plays: the shadow play "The Story that Was Never Written" (5+) by the couple themselves with an open ending as the audience decides how the play will end; the science fiction puppet play "Robot Stories of a Real Man" ("Skazki Robotov o Nastoyaschem Cheloveke") (8+) based on the writing of Stanislav Lem; the Scottish fairy tale "The Farmer and the Giantess" ("Fermer i Velikansha") (5+) performed by puppets in a cardboard box. Trickster regularly stages plays at the Praktika Theatre and the Meyerhold Theatre Centre, and is always happy to be invited to perform elsewhere.
One of the oldest puppet theatres in Russia, this theatre was founded in 1929 by Yevgeny Vakhtangov's pupil and follower Victor Swemberger. Originally called the Children's Book Theatre, it was affiliated to Gosizdat State Publishing House. The theatre has always had close ties with Russia's leading children's authors such as Samuil Marshak, Alexandra Brustein and Yevgeny Schwartz. Since 1965, the theatre has occupied a late 19th-century building which, in 1912, was reorganized to house one of Moscow's first cinemas. From the 1930s onwards, it has been home to various theatre troupes. The theatre's heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s, when it boasted some extremely innovative directors. Here, puppet theatre and mask theatre came together for the first time in the country. In the early 2000s, the premises underwent restoration, and some fascinating directors came on the scene. Interested in experimenting, they used a wide variety of styles and methods. Today, for instance, the theatre offers a production of the "Snow Queen" (6+) with paper dolls, staged by the great Maya Krasnopolskaya, and the witty "Game of Scribbles" ("Igra v Karakuli") (6+) from the wonderful puppetmaster Yevgeny Ibragimov. The repertoire also still includes traditional productions in the somewhat old-fashioned Soviet style, yet its fame today is undoubtedly due to its children's performances in new, experimental formats. Audiences of "May Night" (12+) directed by Carolina Zernite, for instance, are blindfolded in order that they might focus on listening to voices and experiencing the wind blowing, as well as various tastes and smells. The "Theatre in Your Hand" (1+) is aimed at very young children, whilst a range of themed theatre quests take older audiences on exciting journeys round the building.

Most of the theatre's repertoire is aimed at children below the age of 10. In the foyer, the theatre offers a games room with balls and soft cubes. The audience's seats are specially designed so they can be raised, should a small child have trouble seeing the stage.

Snark is a young and extremely active theatre catering for only the very youngest audiences, which is rare in Moscow. The age range for its plays is from 0+ for babies to 5+ for older pre-school children. Lacking its own stage, the troupe joins forces with other theatres and performance spaces such as the Meyerhold Theatre Centre, the Domik Fanni Bell Theatre, the Theatrium at Serpukhovka, Sreda Creative Centre, Mart cafe and Dodo bookshop. Through its partners, Snark sells tickets for its shows, including e-tickets. The varied repertoire includes 10 plays for different pre-school ages. The plays are also different in genre. “Who Will Comfort Knutt” (“Kto Uteshit Kniutta”), for instance, is a small puppet play based on Tove Jansson’s stories of the Moomins from Moominvalley. All the stage sets and puppets can be fitted into a single suitcase. “Through the Eyes of a Flower” (“Glazami Tsvetka”) is a half-hour musical performance for babies about two gardeners who show and tell how flowers grow, then teach their little viewers to plant and nurture flowers. All the theatre’s plays are interactive: audiences always have a chance to participate in the action. Snark actively uses storytelling – a fashionable technique that has only been used in Moscow for two years. In its productions, Snark always combines storytelling with puppets, multimedia, clowns or other forms of theatre.
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Founded in 1931 by the outstanding puppeteer and director Sergey Obraztsov, this is Russia's most famous puppet theatre. In Soviet times it was the most popular Russian theatre abroad, with tickets for its tour performances vying in demand with those of the Bolshoi Theatre. After Obraztsov's death the theatre experienced a lengthy crisis, relying on its former glory and old productions. Even today the repertoire still contains several plays that have been performed for decades. Such are "By the Will of the Pike" ("Po Schuchyemu Veleniyu") (1936), "Aladdin's Magic Lamp" ("Volshebnaya Lampa Aladdina") (1940), "An Extraordinary Concert" (Neobyknovenny Kontsert") (1946) and "The Divine Comedy" ("Bozhestvennaya Komediya") (1961). Whilst the old productions undoubtedly possess historical value, children may find the plays staged in the last five years more stimulating. Among these are "The Snowman" ("Snegovik") (8+) from the young director Boris Konstantinov, who now heads the theatre, or "Old Sir and..." ("Stary Sinior and...") (12+) from the wonderful puppeteer and director Victor Nikonenko. Awarded Golden Masks, these productions put the Obraztsov Theatre back on the map. Children are also bound to like "A Puppy Went for a Walk" ("Gulial po Ulitse Schenok") (6+), "The Big Adventure: Dragons, Demons and Heroes” ("Bolshoye Puteshestviye: Drakony, Demony, Geroi") (6+), "The Blue Bird" ("Sinyaya Ptitsa") (6+), "A Certain Nose" ("Nekto Nos") (12+) and other productions created after 2010.

Extra bonus points with this theatre are its puppet museum in the foyer, open before performances and in the interval, as well as the theatre's famous clock that strikes at midday. At this time, the mechanical puppets on the theatre's facade give a little concert as the doors of their houses open, music plays, animals venture out of their homes and begin to dance, beating drums, playing pipes and generally having fun.

Founded by the outstanding puppeteer and director Vladimir Stein together with artist Marina Gribanova, this cosy little family theatre recently marked its 25th anniversary. Considered one of Russia's finest professional puppet theatres, Volshebnaya Lampa (Magic Lamp) sets out to foster curiosity and a love of reading among children. The repertoire is planned accordingly. The theatre's productions are based on the best children's books from "The Cat's House" ("Koshkin Dom") to "Winnie the Pooh" ("Vinni Pukh"). Besides staging plays, the theatre offers new book presentations and exhibitions of illustrators' work. Originally purely a puppet theatre, nowadays Volshebnaya Lampa uses different forms of theatre. This theatre is perhaps most suitable and enjoyable for very young children who have minimal theatregoing experience.
Active in Moscow since 2002, this small puppet and shadow theatre offers a repertoire based on folklore from different countries. Without its own premises, the troupe gives performances at various Moscow venues including the Domik Fanni Bell Theatre and the Pokrovka Cultural Centre. The Ucheny Medved (Learned Bear) also often gives performances by invitation. Its plays are geared to small venues that hold 50 to 60 people. All plays are accompanied by live music: audiences can hear a range of traditional instruments such as the string gusli, the zhaleika hornpipe and the hurdy-gurdy. The productions vary greatly in format. "Well Well" ("Nu i Nu") is an African story for open stages and street festivals. "Around the World in 10 Minutes" ("Puteshestviye Vokrug Sveta Za 10 Minut") is a shadow play home master-class, after which the children stage their own play. The repertoire also includes more traditions productions. Among these are the "Tale of Egor the Brave" ("Skaz o Egorii Khrabrom"), a puppet play based on Russian legends and spiritual verse on Saint George the Victorious, and "The Magic Mirror" ("Volshebnoye Zerkalo"), a magical shadow play about a princess and a travelling youth. The theatre's most popular seasonal performances are "Christmas" ("Rozhdestvo"), a shadow production based on folk nativity plays, and "Butter Week" ("Maslenitsa"), a puppet play drawing on Lubok images and folk texts. Tickets can be purchased in advance only for plays running at fixed indoor venues: information on these is always available on the theatre's website.
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This cosy little theatre caters for pre-school and younger schoolchildren. Situated in one of Moscow's tiniest and sweetest parks, the Bauman Garden, it holds just 50 people. The layout is such that the audience is right up close to the performers: this way, the children can feel that they are taking part in the action. The theatre has no standard seating, no chairs arranged in rows: instead, the children sit on cushions and can move around freely if they wish. The repertoire includes all the genres and styles of contemporary theatre from puppet performances to multimedia projects, from clowns and pantomime to cooking shows and storytelling. In the summer, some performances are held outside, in a little amphitheatre in the open air. The theatre also has a drama studio where children can learn to stage their own performances. The repertoire also includes plays from a variety of independent troupes specializing in children's theatre and lacking their own stage.

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Founded by Natalya Sats in 1921, this claims to be the first children's theatre in the world. Natalya was the daughter of Ilya Sats, who composed the music for the legendary "Blue Bird" ("Sinyaya Ptitsa") staged by Konstantin Stanislavsky. At first the troupe worked in the Ars cinema building in Moscow's Tverskaya Street (the building currently houses the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre). In 1936, the theatre moved to its current home. Together with the Bolshoi and Maly theatres, it is now one of the key buildings in Teatralnaya Ploschad (Teatralnaya Square). Famous for its Empire style, the Russian Academic Youth Theatre is an important cultural landmark and one of Moscow's top attractions. Erected in 1821 using funds granted by Lieutenant General Konstantin Poltoratsky, a hero of the Napoleonic War of 1812, for three quarters of a century the building was home to private theatre troupes. In the 1880s, a third floor was built, and the main hall widened. Between 1898 and 1907 the premises were rented by the Directorate of Imperial Theatres, and later, by the Private Opera of Sergey Zimin. Between 1924 and 1936, the building belonged to the Second Moscow Art Theatre MKhAT-2, before being handed over to Natalya Sats. In the 1950s the theatre was headed by Stanislavsky's pupil Maria Knebel. Under her management, many famous actors and directors such as Oleg Yefremov, Anatoly Efros and Lev Durov took their first steps.

Known as the Central Children's Theatre up until 1992, the theatre's repertoire included mostly plays for young children, along with some productions for teenagers. Following its renaming as the Youth Theatre as part of a rebranding in the early 1990s, the theatre changed its repertoire to cater for teenagers and audiences above the age of 20. The broad range of productions included "Tom Sawyer," "The Musketeers" ("Mushketery"), Keyes, Chekhov, Thomas Mann, Tom Stoppard, Boris Akunin and Liudmila Ulitskaya. Most plays for young children are on weekend mornings. They are all billed as 6+, but four- and five-year-old children are also allowed in. Tickets for the children's plays are always in high demand, and those for several productions such as "The Cat that Walked Where He Liked" ("Kak Kot Gulyal, Gde Yemu Vzdumayetsa") have to be booked months in advance.

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One of the first children's theatres in the USSR, the Moscow Young Generation Theatre opened in the 1920s in a 19th-century building that in 1911 had been renovated to house a private theatre. In the 1920s the building was home to the Young Experimental Theatre before housing the Moscow Young Generation Theatre, originally known as the Pedagogical Theatre.
The theatre was geared for children and young people, becoming a blueprint for a network of similar youth theatres across the USSR. In 1987, with the arrival of the well-known Henrietta Yanovskaya as artistic director, and of her equally famous husband, the director Kama Ginkas, the repertoire was reviewed to cater for adult audiences. The changes brought the theatre numerous Golden Mask awards, yet the management has not forgotten about younger audiences altogether.
Yanovskaya herself regularly directs children's plays, including her well-known 6+ productions of "The Wolf and Seven Goats" ("Volk i Semero Kozlyat") and "The Cat's House" ("Koshkin Dom"). Kama Ginkas has put on some popular plays for pre-school 5+ audiences, such as Pushkin's "The Golden Cockerel" ("Zolotoy Petushok"), as well as productions such as Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" ("Schastlivy Prints") for teenagers (12+). The Moscow Young Generation Theatre has many plays based on classics from the school curriculum, which become major social events for Moscow's theatre-lovers of all ages.