Theater of Young Workers

Theater of Young Workers

 

(TRAM), one of several amateur or semiprofessional theaters organized in the USSR in the mid-1920’s.

Theaters of young workers existed in many large industrial centers, including Moscow, Leningrad, Baku, Ivanovo, Rostov-on-Don, Kharkov, Sverdlovsk, and Perm’. These theaters, which reflected the eagerness of young workers to comment on topical issues through public entertainment, were closely associated with the Komsomol. The young people desired to become actively involved in social production, make known the achievements of outstanding workers, discourage loafers and drunkards, oppose bureaucrats, and promote the building of socialism. These goals were the strength of the TRAM movement and the reason for its rapid development. In 1928 there were 11 theaters of young workers, and by 1930, approximately 70.

The Theater of Young Workers in Leningrad, which opened in 1925 with Gorbenko’s Sashka Chumovoi, is considered the first theater of the TRAM movement. The theater’s manager and theorist was M. V. Sokolovskii, who regarded the theater as a means of political propaganda. The TRAM movement was, however, inwardly contradictory. Performances were in many ways improvised. In addition, the abandonment of the major dramatic works and the classical heritage resulted at times in a sketchy, primitive effect that could not but lower the value of the actors’ performances.

The decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Apr. 23, 1932, On the Reconstruction of Literary and Artistic Organizations led many to question the merits of the TRAM movement. The Moscow, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, and Kuibyshev theaters, which had been designated as professional theaters, were reorganized as Lenin Komsomol theaters, with realist drama constituting the basis of their repertoire. A thorough professional study of these groups was initiated and led by such outstanding masters of the stage as I. Ia. Sudakov and later I. N. Bersenev in Moscow and V. P. Kozhich, B. N. Zon, and N. S. Rashevskaia in Leningrad. Amateur groups were put under the protection of trade unions.

The stage directors and actors of the theaters of young workers, including B. I. Ravenskikh, R. R. Suslovich, L. V. Varpakhovskii, F. E. Shishigin, V. R. Solov’ev, and V. D. Doronin, subsequently revised their views, mastered the principles of professional realistic art and the Stanislavsky system, and became great Soviet artists.

REFERENCE

Rabiniants, N. Teatr iunosti. [Leningrad, 1959.]

IU. A. ZUBKOV

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