Cultural Creative Agency

A Short History of Russian Theater from the 17th Century to the Present Day: a Lecture by Valeriy Zolotukhin

A series of talks on Russian culture

The history of Russian theater is relatively short; it began either in 1672 or in 1756. However, over the last three and a half hundred years it has progressed from an amateur and private enterprise that transmitted norms of behavior or entertained nobility into a huge institutional system with a powerful social effect. In his rich presentation, Valery Zolotukhin narrates a multidimensional view of the evolution of the Russian theater and its dominant genres (drama, tragedy, and comedy). Zolotukhin does not only give an introduction to major playwrights, emblematic productions, and famous actors, but also discusses the funding system, architecture, set design, acting techniques, audience’s taste, critical reception, and the wider social climate.

Recommended further readings:

1. Russian Theatre in Practice: The Director’s Guide. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.

2. Beumers, Birgit; Lipovetsky, Mark. Performing Violence: Literary and Theatrical Experiments of New Russian Drama. Intellect Ltd., 2009.

3. Leach, Robert et al. A History of Russian Theatre. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

4. Osińska, Katarzyna. Twentieth-Century Russian Theatre and Tradition. Continuities, Ruptures, Transformations. Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, 2017.

5. Rudnitsky, Konstantin; Milne, Lesley. Russian and Soviet Theatre: Tradition and the Avant-garde. Thames & Hudson, 1988.

6. Senelick, Laurence. Historical Dictionary of Russian Theatre. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2015.

7. Smeliansky, A.; Miles, P.; Senelick, L. The Russian Theatre After Stalin. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

8. Von Geldern, J. Bolshevik Festivals, 1917-1920. University of California Press, 1993.


A series of seven lectures conducted by prominent Russian scholars in cinema, literature, visual art, theater, music, architecture, and design. Each of the speakers presents a broad authorial perspective on their respective fields and puts it in the wider cultural and social landscape. What distinguishes this crash course from others is that it highlights not only Western, but also Eastern influences, relations, and parallels. This series is held in English with Arabic subtitles and will be accompanied by the Russian Culture Manual. Participants: Kirill Adibekov, Alexei Vdovin, Kirill Svetlyakov, Valery Zolotukhin, Roman Nasonov, Anna Bronovitskaya, and Alexandra Sankova. 

Valeriy Zolotukhin
Russian theater scholar, Senior Researcher at the School of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration).