People's Amateur Theater

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

People’s Amateur Theater


(narodnyi teatr), in the USSR, the most developed type of amateur theater in its new and higher form of development.

People’s amateur theaters are founded from permanent amateur drama and musical (opera, ballet, musical comedy) companies whose work is on a professional level and who have gained official recognition. These companies have quality repertoires from both the ideological and artistic standpoint and possess the necessary facilities for staging a variety of productions and performances and for conducting pedagogical work.

The first people’s amateur theaters in the state network were founded in 1959; those in the trade union network first appeared in 1961. In 1959, theatrical groups in the villages of Buturlinovka and Nikol’skoe (Voronezh Oblast), Narimanovo (Tatar ASSR), Krasnyi lar (Astrakhan Oblast), and Bessonovka (Penza Oblast) received the title of people’s amateur theaters. In 1960, the theatrical groups of the palace of culture of the Likhachev Automotive Plant and the Gorbunov and Metrostroi palaces of culture in Moscow, the palace of culture of the Vyborg District in Leningrad, and the Barrikady Palace of Culture in Volgograd were named people’s amateur theaters. In all, in 1960 there were about 100 people’s amateur theaters in the USSR.

Apart from drama theaters, there are also people’s amateur musical theaters. Such theaters include opera theaters, such as those affiliated with the Central House of Culture of Railroad Workers in Moscow and the Novocherkassk Polytechnical Institute; ballet theaters affiliated with the Palace of Culture of Metallurgists in Novokuznetsk, the Gigant Palace of Culture in Yaroslavl, and the Serp i Molot Palace of Culture in Moscow; opera and ballet theaters affiliated with the Rostsel’mash Palace of Culture of the Rostov Agricultural Machinery Plant in Rostov-on-Don and the Combine Plant in Taganrog; and operetta and musical comedy theaters affiliated with the Palace of Culture of Petroleum Workers in Orsk and the Ul’ianovsk Automotive Works. In villages, workers’ settlements, raion centers, and cities without a professional theater, people’s amateur theaters acquaint their audiences with the theatrical arts and exert a beneficial influence on the cultural life of the local population. People’s amateur theaters broaden the cultural horizons of their members, refine their aesthetic taste, and develop the skills of their performers.

The most interesting productions of people’s amateur theaters have included Geraskina’s The School-leaving Certificate, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Kazakevich’s The Blue Notebook (Palace of Culture of the Likhachev Automotive Plant, directed by S. L. Shtein) and Gorky’s Egor Bulychov and the Others and Arbuzov’s Years of Wandering (Palace of Culture of the Gorky Automotive Plant; directed by N. V. Nikol’skii). Equally noteworthy productions were Gorky’s lakov Bogomolov (Palace of Culture of the Gorbunov Metrostroi; directed by L. A. Novskii), Drutse’s Birds of Our Youth (Vyborg People’s Amateur Theater; directed by B. P. Furne), Roshchin’s Valentin and Valentina (Palace of Culture of Petroleum Workers in Angarsk; directed by L. V. Besprozvannyi), and Pogodin’s Tempo (Barrikady Palace of Culture in Volgograd; directed by B. L. Aglintsev). Other important productions included a dramatization of Sholokhov’s Quiet Don (Sverdlov Palace of Culture in Gorky; directed by S. R. Depsames), Karim’s Unsung Song (Ordzhonikidze Palace of Culture in Ufa, Bashkir People’s Amateur Theater; directed by A. A. Asliamov), Ianovskii’s Fury (Chertkovo People’s Amateur Theater, Ukrainian SSR; directed by A. K. Moskalenko), and Tammsaare’s Master KМrboja (E. Vilde People’s Amateur Theater, Tartu; directed by V. Päi).

Many people’s amateur theaters form their own original repertoires. They stage productions based on literary material, including the works of one or more authors, and make use of documents and publicistic writings; for example, the presentations based on Mayakovsky’s poem “It’s Good!” by the Perm’ People’s Amateur Theater for Youth (directed by D. I. Futlik). People’s amateur theaters are headed by a principal director and an artist in charge of production. In people’s amateur musical theaters, there is also a conductor and chorus master and in ballet theaters, a choreographer. These specialists are usually full-time employees. The actors and other participants in stage productions (lighting technicians, set designers, costumers) work gratis and on a voluntary basis. Many people’s amateur theaters have theatrical studios that provide systematic instruction in acting, stage diction and movement, and makeup.

Many directors of the people’s amateur theaters have received the title of Honored Art Worker; among them are B. L. Aglintsev, N. V. Nikol’skii, V. A. Orlov, Iu. G. Polichinetskii, and S. L. Shtein. Others have been named Honored Cultural Workers. The directors and managers of people’s amateur theaters receive their training at state institutes of culture or through the correspondence section of the B. V. Shchukin Theater School under the Evg. Vakhtangov Theater (since 1959). The theaters receive artistic assistance from the All-Russian Theater Society, where the Office on People’s Amateur Theaters and the Council on People’s Amateur Theaters were created in 1959. The latter is headed by B. E. Zakhava. The office supervises the work and development of people’s amateur theaters. It helps prepare methodological literature and conducts seminars for directors of people’s amateur theaters.

In 1974, more than 2,000 people’s amateur theaters were in operation, including 50 musical theaters.


Gor’kii na stsene samodeiatel’nogo teatra. Moscow, 1960. (Collection of articles.)
Narodnye teatry. Moscow, 1962. (Collection of articles.)
Narodnye teatry [fascs. 1–3]. Moscow, 1962–64. (Collection of articles.)
Vospitanie aktera: Materialy laboratorii rezhisserov narodnykh teatrov pri VTO, fascs. 1–2. Moscow, 1964–72.
Teatr na sele. Moscow, 1966. (Collection of articles.)
Narodnye teatry strany. Moscow, 1968. (Collection of articles.)


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