Central Theater of the Soviet Army

Central Theater of the Soviet Army

 

(designated an academic theater in 1975), a theater founded in 1929 by the political board of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army to entertain servicemen and officers of the Red Army. The theater opened in February 1930 with a performance of Alymov’s The Chinese Eastern Railway, a dramatized account of events occurring in the Far East in 1929. The imposing building of the theater, which has the shape of a five-pointed star, was designed by the architects K. S. Alabian and V. N. Simbirtsev and erected in 1940. The theater was called the Central Theater of the Red Army until 1951. In its early years, the theater conducted interesting experiments in the staging of plays on military and patriotic themes; these included Vishnevskii’s The First Cavalry Army (1930), Kudrin’s Between the Storms (1930), and Ovchina-Ovcharenko’s Military Commissar (1932).

The theater’s first artistically successful productions were staged by Iu. A. Zavadskii, who headed the company from 1932 to 1935. His productions included Prut’s Mstislav the Bold (1932) and Korneichuk’s The Destruction of the Squadron (1934). The leading actors of the period included A. P. Bogdanova, P. I. Geraga, D. V. Zerkalova, N. L. Konovalov, K. A. Nassonov, A. M. Petrov, M. N. Pertsovskii, F. G. Ranevskaia, A. P. Khovanskii, and A. M. Khodurskii. The stage designers I. S. Fedotov and N. A. Shifrin and the stage directors E. S. Telesheva and A. M. Lobanov also worked at the theater.

The true father of the Central Theater of the Soviet Army, the founder of its finest traditions and its ideological and artistic leader, was the stage director and teacher A. D. Popov, who headed the company from 1935 to 1958. Popov considered the theater’s special function to be the development of military dramaturgy; however, he also devoted considerable attention to the classics.

The best productions of the theater from the 1930’s to the 1950’s included Gorky’s Smug Citizens (1935) and Vassa Zheleznova (1936), Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (1937), Perventsev’s The Winged Tribe (1941), Korneichuk’s The Front (1942), Gladkov’s In Bygone Days (1942), Chepurin’s Stalingraders (1944), Lope de Vega’s The Dance Teacher (1946), Aliger’s Tale of Truth (1946), Perventsev’s Southern Junction (1947), Shtein’s The Wide Steppe (1949) and The Admiral’s Flag (1950), Gogol’s The Inspector-General (1951), Chernyshevskii’s A Troublemaker (1952), Baratashvili’s The Dragonfly (1953), Makaenok’s Excuse Me, Please! (1953), Smirnov’s Fortress on the Bug (1956), Sholokhov’s Virgin Soil Upturned (1957), De Filippo’s My Family (1957), Hikmet’s The Forgotten Man (1958), Wuolijoki’s Justina (1958), and Salynskii’s The Drummer Girl (1959).

Popov created a brilliant acting ensemble united by common artistic principles and an integrated method. The stage directors of the 1950’s included D. V. Tunkel’, A. L. Shaps, V. S. Kantsel’, V. P. Pil’don, I. P. Voroshilov, A. Z. Okunchikov, B. A. L’vov-Anokhin, A. B. Shatrin, and V. V. Beliavskii. A. L. Dunaev was the principal stage director from 1959 to 1962. The productions of the 1950’s and 1960’s included Shtein’s The Ocean (1961), Drutse’s Casa Mare (1961), and Gorky’s Iakov Bogomolov (1962). A. A. Popov served as principal stage director of the theater from 1963 to 1973, and I. G. Sumbatashvili was principal stage designer from 1962 to 1972.

The productions of the 1960’s included Arbuzov’s My Poor Marat (1965), A. K. Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan the Terrible (1966), Bek’s Volokolamsk-Moscow (1966), Panova’s Nadezhda Milovanova (1967), Svetlov’s The Brandenburg Gate (1968), Pavlovskii’s Elegy (1968), and Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (1969).

In the 1970’s the theater staged The Sea Has Stretched Far by Vishnevskii, Kron, and Azarov (1970), Vasil’ev’s The Dawns Are Quiet Here (1971), Rybakov’s The Unknown Soldier (1971), Dvoretskii’s A Man From the Outside (1971), Drutse’s Birds of Our Youth (1973) and Holy of Holies (1977), Dvoretskii’s Kovaleva From the Provinces (1974), Fedenev’s The Snow Has Fallen (1975), The Wanderings of Billy Pilgrim by Rozovskii and Mikhailov after Vonnegut (1975), Panova’s Traveling Companions (1976), Vishnevskii’s We Are the Russian People (1976), and De Filippo’s The Examinations Never End (1976). Close friendship with the Soviet Army and Navy remain the basis of the creative life of the theater, which is devoted to the staging of plays on military and patriotic themes.

Notable actors of the theater include, as of 1976, People’s Artists of the USSR L. I. Dobrzhanskaia, V. M. Zel’din, L. I. Kasatkina, and N. A. Sazonova; People’s Artists of the RSFSR A. P. Bogdanova, V. Ia. Kapustina, M. F. Pastukhova, P. I. Vishniakov, M. M. Maiorov, D. L. Sagal, and B. A. Sitko; and Honored Artists of the RSFSR T. N. Alekseeva, L. I. Golubkina, K. F. Zakharov, G. I. Kozhakina, S. S. Kulagin, A. Ia. Kutepov, G. Ia. Krynkin, N. I. Pastukhov, M. N. Pertsovskii, And. A. Petrov, Aleksandr A. Petrov, A. S. Pokrovskaia, R. I. Rakitin, I. I. Riabinin, I. A. Soldatova, and V. B. Soshal’skii.

A. V. Burdonskii and B. A. Morozov are among the theater’s stage directors. P. A. Belov is the principal stage designer. R. A. Goriaev has been the principal stage director since 1974.

REFERENCES

Obraztsova, A. G., and Z. B. Boguslavskaia. “Tsentral’nyi teatr Krasnoi Armii.” In Ocherki istorii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1954.
Popov, A. D. Vospominaniia i razmyshleniia o teatre. Moscow, 1963.
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