ASEAN Centre in MGIMO-University the MFA of Russia


V.Pogadaev. Youth is the most enjoyable stage of human life

V.Pogadaev. Youth is the most enjoyable stage of human life


In Moscow's Theatre Square, to the left of the Bolshoy Theatre (Big Theatre) and opposite the Maly Theatre (Small Theatre) there is another theatre, the Theatre for Youth — formerly called the Central Academic Theatre for Children — which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Just like its famous "neighbours", it is located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Moscow.

With a spacious foyer, large antique lamps reflected on the parquet floor, dark velvet chairs and golden door handles, this theatre is not inferior to others because of its academic contributions.

The theatre was founded on July 13, 1921, by Natalia Sats (1903-1993), whose name became a legend in the Russian theatre world.

In the 1950s, a colleague of Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863-1938), namely Maria Knebel (1898-1985) worked here.

She was a teacher to many actors and theatre directors. She also elevated theatre for children by insisting that performances for children should be on a par with performances for adults, or even better.

Her contemporary, director Anatoly Efros (1925-1987), staged dramas in the theatre by unearthing the talents of two Russian playwrights, Victor Rozov (1913-2004) and Alexander Khmelik (1925-2001), who wrote plays for the establishment.

That period became a special era not only for theatre enthusiasts, but for Moscow theatre lovers.

The change of name, from the Central Academic Theatre for Children to the Theatre for Youth, that took place in 1992, was not a coincidence.

Youth is the most enjoyable stage of human life, of glorious emotions.

It is a time of opening up new worlds, as well as of hope and belief in a bright future.

A famous English director, Peter Brook, was once asked what theatre audience he believed was the best, so he replied: "The best audience is a child with their parents."

It is interesting that I heard the same opinion from Ladin Nuawi, a Malaysian theatre activist and writer who created the first children's theatre in Malaysia. So the best audience deserves the best performances too.

The Theatre for Youth's repertoire consists of fairy tales, classic tragedies, as well as famous old and modern plays written by Jean Racine, Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde, Alexander Pushkin, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Mark Twain, Romain Gary, Alexander Ostrovsky and Thornton Wilder.

The theatre troupe deserves to be called one of the best in Moscow, and was awarded prizes at festivals and competitions.

In 1985, the staging of Les Miserables (by Victor Hugo) received the Russian National Prize, and in 1994, the staging of Berenice (by Jean Racine) and Our Town (by Thornton Wilder) received the Moscow City Hall Prize.

In 2001, the same prize was given to the staging of The Diary of a Young Girl (by Anne Frank), in which Chulpan Hamatova played the lead role.

The Theatre for Youth is famous the world over and has performed in Bulgaria, Holland, the United States, Canada, France, Yugoslavia, England and Germany.

In 2004, it performed in China and in 2005, it was the first Russian troupe to perform in Iceland.

The art director of the theatre, Alexei Borodin, told me said that his purpose was to unite all generations of theatre so that the older generation could share its experiences with the younger generation.

In Borodin's opinion, the theatre is like a family; a team that unites the actors, directors, painters and support staff.

New life begins here every season, and this year's theatre season will begin next month with The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard.

The show lasts eight hours and is held as part of the "Let's spend a day in a theatre" campaign.

Dr Victor A. Pogadaev
New Straits Times