When everything was set and ready, they went out into the evening street and stopped the first person who happened to be passing by.
“Would you like to attend a theatre performance?”
“Why, is there a theatre around here?”
“Now there is.”
Altogether, about forty people came, so Podkolyosin, a character in Gogol’s “The Marriage”, had a big enough audience to make his monologue. All this took place in what had once been a vegetable shop storehouse. At their next performance the hall was full to capacity.
That was how an amateur theatre came into being five years ago at 125 Vernadsky Prospekt, in the Gagarin District of Moscow.
“The desire to become an actor and artistic director gripped me long ago”, says Valery Belyakovich, the theatre’s director. When a schoolboy, I played at the Theatre of Young Muscovites which functioned at the city’s Palace of Young Pioneers. It was also there that I put up my first productions. After my service in the Army, I had been an actor at an experimental theatre for a while and then entered the State Institute of Dramatic Art where I studied under B. Ravenskikh, People’s Artist of The USSR. By that time a small company of amateur actors had come into being. They were boys and girls with whom I once played at the Theatre of Young Muscovites. After secondary school some of them began to work and others went on to study at higher schools. We started by reviving our schooltime productions. But, of course, we dreamed about real, full plays, about a different repertoire and bigger audience. And most of all, we wanted to share our love for the theatre with other people. Motivated by all this, we turned to the Gagarin District Soviet and the Gagarin District YCI. Committee for assistance. And they did support us and helped to find the premises.
They very first steps of the theatre deserve to be described in greater detail. …The company members were walking about the basement premises, smiling happily. The place was clattered with junk, but it did not matter a thing to them. In their mind’s eye they already saw it as their own theatre.
And for the time being, the studio members were working hard to build their theatre. They laid bricks, welded metal structures, painted, planed, laid electricity and radio cables. Often they would put away their tools, sit down on makeshift chairs and perform sketches or scenes from various plays. Subsequently such intermissions would become an inseparable part of a normal study process at the studio. Valery Belyakovich attached much importance to this form of study, and his own experience at the State Institute of Dramatic Art helped him to do it properly.
The assistance rendered by the district authorities was, naturally, of decisive importance. Almost 25000 roubles were allocated to repair the premises and to buy the necessary equipment, theatre props and costumes.
On the last Sunday of every month, and noon, you can come and get two tickets – free of charge – for any play currently on the theatre’s repertoire.
All actors are considered to be leading, the programme indicating not only the part they appear in, but their other functions – lighting operators, costume designers, etc.
The theatre studio in the south-west of Moscow is young, and much interesting work is still ahead of it. But what has been accomplished to date makes one confident that the theatre is on the right path, that its hall will resound again, and again to the thunderous applause of a grateful audience, and that many new names will appear on its playbills, for the stage of this theatre is open to all.