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Moscow Art Public Theatre was opened

26 October 1898

“We are anxious to set up the first reasonable, moral public theatre, and it is to this noble goal that we are dedicating our life”.

K.S. Stanislavsky

On October 14 (26) 1898 in Moscow with the play “Tsar Feodor Ioanovich” opened the Moscow Art Public Theatre, founded by K.S. Stanislavsky and V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko.

The core of the new theatre’s company was made of the most talented members of the theatrical circle Art and Literature Amateurs Society (M.P. Lilina, M.F. Andreeva, V.A. Luzhsky, A. R. Artyom) and students of Nemirovich-Danchenko at Musical-Drama School of the Moscow Philharmonic society (O.L. Knipper, I.M. Moskvin, V.E. Meyerhold, M.G. Savitskaya, M.O. Roksanova, N.N. Litovtseva. Later the troupe accepted A.L. Vishnevsky, V.I. Kachalov and L.M. Leonidov.

In his speech addressed to the troupe before the inauguration of the Moscow Art Theatre Stanislavsky said: “Do not forget that we are eager to bring the light into dark lives of the poor class, give them happy, aesthetic minutes among the darkness that has enveloped them. We are anxious to set up the first reasonable, moral public theatre, and it is to this noble goal that we are dedicating our life”.

The main goal of the Moscow Art Theatre, following its founders’ plans, was the search for the stage presentation of the new drama, which found no understanding in the old theatre. These were plays by Chekhov, Ibsen, Hauptman.

The real birth of the new theatre is bound with A.P. Chekhov’s drama “The Seagull”. It was right in Chekhov’s performances that was unveiled a theatre system, which determined the 20th c. theatre, the new understanding of the scene truth, which turned the attention of an actor and director from external realism to internal, to manifestation of life of the human spirit. There were formed new principles of direction, creation of “mood”, common atmosphere for action.  For the first time in the history of the world theatre the Moscow Art Theatre established the role of the director — as the author of the performance, who interpreted the play in accordance with specific character of his creative vision. In the Art Theatre was laid and for the first time implemented “Stanislavsky system”, which became fundamentals of teaching of actors worldwide.

First four seasons (1898–1902) the theatre leased the “Hermitage” theatre building. In 1902 due to efforts of the famous Moscow manufacturer and philanthropist Saava Timopheevich Morozov a building in Kamergersky lane was reconstructed for the theatre. The reconstruction was carried out by the project of the architect Feodor Osipovich Schechtel. The new building was solemnly opened on October 26 (November 8) 1902 with a performance “The Petty Bourgeoisie” based on the play of M. Gorky.

In 1920 the Art Theatre became Academic, and in 1932 it was called after M. Gorky.

In 1923 under the theatre appeared a museum with two branches: the K.S. Stanislavsky House-Museum and the V.I.  Nemirovich-Danchenko Memorial flat. In 1943 based at the Art Theatre, the Moscow Art Theatre institute of higher education School-Studio named after V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko was established.

In 1956 at the Moscow Art Theatre institute of higher education School-Studio appeared the theatre-studio “Contemporary” (“Sovremennik”).

In 1987 the collective of the theatre divided into two independent groups: one began its existence under O.N. Efremov (from 1989 A.P. Chekhov Moscow Art Academic Theatre, Kamergersky lane) and the other under T.V. Doronina (M. Gorky Moscow Art Academic Theatre, Tverskoy Blvd).

In 2004 under the Artistic Director O.P. Tabakov A.P. Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre returned its original name — the Moscow Art Theatre, excluding the word Academic.

Lit.: И вновь о Художественном: МХАТ в воспоминаниях и записях, 1901-1920 / [Сост. М. Полканова]. М., 2004; Морозова Т. П. Савва Тимофеевич Морозов и Общедоступный театр [Электронный ресурс] // Богородск-Ногинск. 2004-2018. URL: http://www.bogorodsk-noginsk.ru/arhiv/chteniya96/17.html; Орлов Ю. Экономика Московского Художественного театра 1898–1914 гг.: к вопросу о самоокупаемости частных театров // Отечественные записки. 2005. № 4; О театре. История [Электронный ресурс] // Московский Художественный Академический театр им. М.Горького. Б.д. URL: http://www.mxat-teatr.ru/about/history; Орлов Ю. М. Московский художественный театр: Легенды и факты (опыт хозяйствования), 1898-1917 гг. М., 1993.

From the Presidential library materials:

Anniversary of Anton Chekhov, Russian writer, playwright and doctor // День в истории. 29 January 1860.