Russian Academic Youth Theatre

Nikkolay Galkin/ТАSS
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.