Galiaskar Kamal Tatar State Academic Theatre

Yegor Aleyev/ТАSS
Tatar theatre was born on December 22, 1906, when a play in Tatar was publicly performed in Kazan for the first time. The company, named Sayar (Itinerant) on the suggestion of the eminent Tatar writer Gabdulla Tukay, was then directed by Ilyas Kudashev-Ashkazarsky, a schoolteacher from Orenburg. The company staged Russian and foreign plays in addition to plays in Tatar, written by such acclaimed classics as Galiasgar Kamal, Karim Tinchurin and Mirkhaidar Faizi.  

The Sayar spin-off theatre companies Nur and Shirkat, teaming up with some frontline theatre companies, made up First National Red October Model Tatar Drama Theatre in 1922, directed by Karim Tinchurin. It was Tinchurin who wrote the play Blue Fabric, which is now the company's signature. The company was named after Galiasgar Kamal in 1939. 

Tatar performing arts really took off in 1966, when Marsel Salimjanov stepped in as the director-in-chief of the State Academic Theatre. Salimjanov is credited with the company's most famous "everlasting" productions, such as Grigory's Brothers-in-Law, which has been shown more than 500 times. The playwright who wrote that play, Tufan Minnulin, is a kind of a resident playwright of the State Academic Theatre. His plays form the core of the company's repertoire.   

Salimjanov won the Golden Mask Award in the "Honour and Dignity" category in 2001. The company is currently directed by Salimjanov's pupil Farid Bikchantayev who, like his mentor, elegantly combines innovation with respect for tradition, which explains such unusual bedfellows as Hodja Nasreddin, Richard III, and contemporary Tatar plays on the company's playbills.   

Several generations of actors play at the State Academic Theatre, from 1960s alumni of the Tatar studio of Mikhail Shchepkin Acting School to recent University of Culture graduates. All performances on the theatre's big and small stages are in Tatar (simultaneous English and Russian translation is available). The company has plays for kids, as well as adults, on its repertoire. The State Academic Theatre has hosted the Nauruz Turkic Peoples Festival (more recently renamed Educational Theatre Forum) since 1998, and "Remeslo" Russian National Festival of Young Tatar Theatre Directors since 2009.