A Brief History of Brest Academic Drama Theatre
The first attempt to open a professional theatre in Brest was made after the unification of Western Belarus with the BSSR. The first theatre troupe for the newly created Brest Regional Russian Drama was formed in August 1940 in Moscow. The troupe consisted of the the GITIS graduates, the course of the People’s Artist of the USSR Mikhail Tarkhanov.
However, the life of the first theatre was short. The war caught the troupe of the Russian Regional Drama Theatre on tour in Pinsk. Brest Theatre, in its turn, hosted the Theatre of Musical Comedy at the time. The theatre building was disfigured during the bombing.
On October 1, 1944 the State Youth Russian Drama Theatre named after the Lenin Komsomol of Belarus was organized in Brest. The troupe was formed from the graduates of Moscow City Theatre School, the courses of Vladimir Gotovtsev, Nikolai Svobodin and Nikolai Titushin.
When the restoration of the theatre building began, the citizens participated actively in the construction works. Together with the troupe they cleared the ruins. During the reconstruction performances were staged in cinemas and clubs, as well as in the theatre workrooms. Belarusian film director Nikolai Mitskevich was appointed Artistic Director of the new Youth Theatre. The theatre opened its first season in Brest with the premiere of “The Game of Love and Chance” by Pierre Marivaux.
After Mitskevich left for Vitebsk, the Chief Director was Yuri Reshimov, who invited experienced actors to the theatre and greatly enriched its repertoire (“Ordinary Man” by Leonid Leonov, “Guilty Without Guilt” by Alexander Ostrovsky).
At the beginning of 1949 the Committee on Arts at the Council of Ministers of the BSSR united the Brest and Mogilev regional theatres into one creative team. Actors M. Abramov, A. Kochetkova, A. Vetoshkin and others came to Brest from Mogilev. From other cities were invited actors with great creative experience – A. Astorina, O. Zakharova, P. Markin. During this period directors Yuri Reshimov, Alexander Mironsky, Yuri Orynyansky, who were working at the theatre, sought to unite creative forces and determine the direction of future work.
A performance based on the play by K. Gubarevich “Brest Fortress” became a real creative success and a visiting card of Brest Theatre. Its premiere was on March 19, 1953. Having survived several editions and casts, this production was played 935 times and was seen by the audience in Moscow, Minsk, Ukraine, the Baltic States, Poland. In 1967 it was awarded the Lenin Komsomol Prize.
In 1965 G. Volkov, who for more than 14 years had worked fruitfully in the theatre and had directed 83 performances, took up the duties of the Chief Director. In the next decade a new wave of young people joined the troupe, mostly graduates of Minsk Theatre and Art Institute.
From 1963 to 1968 a group of puppeteers worked at the theatre, on the basis of their works a separate theatre was later created.
In 1989 the general reconstruction of the building of Brest Drama Theatre began and lasted for almost 7 years. The rented premises were unsuitable but the troupe did not leave the creative work. As before 5-6 new performances were staged each year. The most significant were “Play, Yosele, play ...” by G. Gorin, “Cheating by Cheating” by A. Griboedov, “Night Sonata” by A. Strindberg.
In 1995 the reconstruction was completed, and at that time the building of Brest Theatre was one of the best theatre buildings in the Republic. On the day of the opening of the renewed building there was a premiere of the play “The Marriage of Figaro” by P. Beaumarchais (director V. Chkhaidze). At the same time another important event occurred – a symphony orchestra joined the theatre on the rights of autonomy. From that time the theatre was called Brest Drama and Music Theatre.
The Artistic Director of the theatre was the Honored Worker of Art of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Kozak. He has maintained this position by now.
On the initiative of A. Kozak and under his direction since 1996 the International Theatre Festival “Belaya Vezha” has been held at Brest theatre . Every year theatres from more than 20 countries of the world take part in the festival program. Thanks to the festival the creative contacts of the theatre are constantly expanding, new projects are emerging. Among them there are the joint project with the Stolichny Theatre in Berlin – the play “The Klop” by V. Mayakovsky (director Tomas Makaras) and joint projects with the Polish Institute in Minsk – the plays “The Tailor” by S. Mrozek (director Caesare Karpinsky, Poland) and “ Dzyady ”A. Mitskevich (director Pavel Passini, Poland).
In 2009 the theatre team made its debut in the new genre of the square performance, staging the play “The Dream of Don Quixote” based on the novel by M. Cervantes (director A. Kozak). The performance successfully participated in international theatre festivals in Poland and Ukraine.
Due to the efforts of the theatre at Brest Music College named after Grigory Shirma an acting course was opened, and its most promising graduates have already joined the theatre troupe. Their acting debuts were in the performances: “The Little Prince”, “Circus Shardam”, “Don Juan”, “Biloxi”.
For a significant contribution to the development of the Belarusian culture and art in 2005 the theatre was awarded the honorary title – Honored Collective of the Republic of Belarus, and in 2009 it was given the status of “academic” theatre. Since that time the name of the theatre has been the state institution “Honored Collective of the Republic of Belarus “Brest Academic Drama Theatre named after the Lenin Komsomol of Belarus”.
The performances of Brest Academic Drama Theatre are distinguished by a fresh look at well-known classical works, as well as experimentalism in the field of genres and forms. The team is actively developing Russian, Belarusian and foreign classics, as well as modern drama: from Anton Chekhov to William Shakespeare, from Adam Mickiewicz to Pavel Pryazhko.
Now the theatre continues to expand its artistic possibilities, master modern drama (“A Very Simple Story” by M. Lado, “Harvest” P. Pryazhko, director Denis Fedorov), and also actively works for the young audience (“Dear Elena Sergeevna” by L. Razumovsky, director Timofei Ilievsky; “Roni and Birk” by A. Lindgren, director Dmitry Nuyanzin; “Sad King” by V. Zimin, director Denis Fedorov). The high professional level of the creative team is evidenced by the fact that in 2014 the leading stage masters M. Metlitsky and T. Levchuk received the title “Honored Artist of the Republic of Belarus”, and S. Petkevich was awarded Francis Skarina Medal. Next to the honored artists they their talents as masters of the scene of different generations realize: O. Zhuk, N. Lobko, M. Ilyich, A. Scherbakov, O. Buzuk, G. Churikov and other talented actors.
In 2017 V. Harbuzau took over the post of Director General of Brest Academic Drama Theatre. Under his leadership the creative team began to pay greater attention to cultural and educational projects and headed for the current trends in theatrical business.