Kazan Bolshoi Dramatic Theater

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kazan Bol’shoi Dramatic Theater


(full name, V. I. Kachalov Russian Kazan Bol’shoi Dramatic Theater), one of the oldest theaters in Russia. The first theatrical performances in Kazan were given in the 18th century, and in 1791 a public semiprofessional theater was opened. In 1803 a professional company of serf actors began performing in a specially built theater. The famous actor and playwright P. A. Plavil’shchikov greatly influenced the theater’s development and largely determined the democratic orientation of its repertoire. The theater staged Fonvizin’s The Minor in 1804 and Plavil’shchikov’s Old Bachelor and Ermak in 1805.

During the 1830’s and 1840’s the outstanding Russian actors P. S. Mochalov and M. S. Shchepkin performed in Kazan. In 1852 a stone building was erected to house the theater, and N. K. Miloslavskii headed its first permanent company until 1858. The theater was subsequently managed by the actor and director P. M. Medvedev (1866–72, 1874–80, 1885–88) and by the entrepreneurs M. M. Borodai (1895–1900) and N. I. So-bol’shchikov-Samarin (1901–07). During this time the theater staged chiefly classical dramatic works, and its leading performers were V. N. Davydov, P. A. Strepetova, and M. G. Savina. Between 1897 and 1900 V. I. Kachalov acted in the theater.

After the October Revolution, Kazan became an important scientific and cultural center, and the Kazan Bol’shoi Dramatic theater became one of the country’s leading companies. Among its best performances were Lavrenev’s The Breakup (1927), Vs. Ivanov’s Armored Train 14–69 (1928), and Trenev’s Liubov’ Iarovaia (1932). In the 1920’s and 1930’s the theater numbered among its actors and directors I. N. Pevtsov, Z. M. Slavianova, I. A. Slonov, L. A. Gripich, I. A. Rostovtsev, M. I. Tsarev, M. I. Zharov, and M. F. Astangov. Between 1934 and 1962, G. D. Rigorin headed the theater; in the 1940’s and 1950’s its chief directors were E. A. Prostov and E. M. Beibutov, and its directors included E. G. GakkeP and A. R. Treplev. During these years the company staged, among other plays, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (1946), The Young Guard, based on Fadeev’s novel (1947), Road to Calvary, based on A. N. Tolstoy’s novel (1947), Stepanov and Popov’s Port Arthur (1953), and Schiller’s Don Carlos (1955).

The theater produced a number of plays devoted to the life of Lenin, such as Lenin in 1918 by Kapler and Zlatogorova (1940), Kremlin Chimes by Pogodin (1940, 1962), The Family by Popov (1952), Third Pathétique by Pogodin (1958), Confronting the Storm by Ishmuratov (1963), and Between Showers by Shtein (1970). Works by Tatar playwrights include Isanbet’s Mullanur Vakhatov (1950) and Ishmuratov’s Immortal Song (1956), about the heroic deeds of Musa DzhaliP. Among the actors appearing in the theater’s most successful plays of the 1930’s through the 1950’s were E. E. Zhilina, N. L Iakushenko, F. V. Grigor’ev, G. P. Ardarov, L V. Zagorskii, L. P. Milova, D. R. Liubin, M. N. Preobrazhenskaia, A. D. Gusev, and L. S. Schmidt. The best plays of the 1960’s included Mayakovsky’s Bathhouse, Gorky’s The Zykovs, and Bulgakov’s Flight.

In 1948 the theater was renamed the V. I. Kachalov Russian Kazan Bol’shoi Dramatic Theater, and in 1957 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. As of 1972 the theater’s company included People’s Artist of the Uzbek SSR N. P. Alek-seeva, People’s Artist of the RSFSR and the Tatar ASSR V. M. Pavlova, People’s Artists of the Tatar ASSR P. A. Tsvetaev and V. I. Ulik, Honored Artist of the RSFSR and Tatar ASSR E. V. Lisetskaia, and People’s Artist of the Tatar ASSR, E. B. Gel’ms. Its chief director since 1965 has been Honored Art Worker of the Tatar ASSR N. Iu. Orlov.


Kruti, I. Russkii teatr v Kazani. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.