Theatre for Young Audience
F. Engels str, 26, Minsk, Belarus

Theatre for Young Audience , Minsk

The first Theatre for Young Audience was open in Minsk in 1931 and existed until July 1941. The Belarusian Theatre for Young Audience opened again in 1956. In 2006 the theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary. Large-scale reconstruction which began at the end of 2010 successfully came to the end in 2015. The shape of an architectural monument is completely remained. Since June 1, 2015 the theater resumed performances on the stage.

 It is known that before the Great Patriotic War the Theatre for Young Audience of BSSR worked in Minsk (since 1939 it was named after N.K. Krupskaya). There are those who saw its performances. The theater was founded in April, 1931 at the Komsomol House. The famous director Nikolay Kavyazin (for that time the enthusiast of the scenic art, the art teacher and the head of a theatre group of railway school) became the founder.

 In 1937 the theater was headed by a famous director and the teacher Evstigney Mirovich, and in 1941, shortly before war, a famous actor and director Mikhail Zorev. The theater was known not only in Belarus. The youngest, it was among sixteen best theaters of the country, which showed the performances on a final round of the All-Union review of theaters for children in Moscow (“A magnificent pipe” of V. Volsky, November, 1940).

 The brochure about theater was published to the All-Union review (“Theatre for Young Audience named after N.K. Krupskaya”. Mn., 1940). The sketch about Theatre for Young Audience was placed in prepared book for a Decade of the Belarusian art in Moscow (June, 1940) named “Art of the Soviet Belarus” (Mn., 1940). In the section “Drama theaters of Belarus” (authors V. Volsky, Ya. Romanovich, A. Segedi) it is told about creation of Theatre, performances (especially since 1937). More details about Theatre for Young Audience can be found in “Stories of the Belarusian theater” (Mn., 1985, T.2). The book by S. Petroviçh “The BSSR children’s theater (1931 - 1941)” is devoted to creative activity of theater (Mn., 1983). It was conceived by the author (died in 1981) as the first part of the book about the Belarusian republican youth theater. Short activity of a pre-war theatre is stated in the brochure prepared for the 50 anniversary of the modern theater – “The Belarusian republican youth theatre” (M., 2006). 

The Great Patriotic War stopped the activity of the theater. According to E. I Uralava’s report of March 22, 1943 (she was the head of the art department at SNK USSR) to M. B. Hrapchanka, the chairman of the art committee at SNK USSR, about the restoration of the BSSR theater network, it was planned to restore three theaters throughout the first half of 1943: the state drama Russian BSSR theater, Brest regional Russian theater and the state Belarusian youth theater (National Archive. F.799 P. Vop.1. Spr. 2. p. 9 or “Belarusians in the soviet back”. July, 1941 - 1944 Collection of documents and materials. – Issue 2. 1943 - 1944 Mn., 2010.). But it was not done. Out of the three theaters only Russian one was restored. 


In 1949 a writer and a cultural figure Zinaida Bandaryna reminded of the need to restore the youth theater in the article “Theater art to children” of October, 8 in “Literature and Art” newspaper. “During the Great Patriotic War some youth theaters were forced to be disbanded temporarily. However, in the first post-war years they restored their activity... In all federal republics work... Everybody knows that before the war there was a youth theatre in Minsk, too, which was high on the list at the all-union review of theaters for children... served tens of thousands of young viewers. There is a question why it does not restore the activity till this time? And numerous young spectators are deprived of the theater for children,” – she wrote.

In 1951 on the Central Committee Bureau of the RC (b) of Belarus (The Minutes No. 139 of March 2 – National  Archive. F.4P, vop. 81, Business. 405, p. 27) the resolution was accepted: “1. To construct a children's republican theater in Minsk in 1951-52 having used for this purpose a box that belongs to the Pioneers’ Minsk Palace”. The construction was fully completed in 1952.

At last, the Decree of the Minister for Culture of BSSR R.Ya. Kisyalyov on the Belarusian republican youth theater founding was signed on September 22, 1955. Uladzimir Stelmakh was appointed the theater director (he served as an actor and assistant of the chief director on literature in pre-war youth theater). He wanted so much not to break off the link with the pre-war theater, to continue its activity in the modern theater. But the leaders of the republic solved in another way. There were given the arguments in favor of new life of the youth theater: so much time already passed, the theater was newly created, it had a new art director (Lyubow Mazaleuskaya) and new collective (the graduates of her course from the Belarusian theater and art institute were the basis of the troupe). It was an official version.

But there was also an informal version. We learned about it in the 1990s. Artur Volsky (a friend of the theater since it was opened, a playwright, a director, an invariable assistant of the chief director of literature) told that during the war some actors were in the occupied Minsk and worked in the city theater. The list of art workers who were and worked in Minsk is stored in materials of the party archive. In the “drama” section there were placed the names of the actors of the youth theater, specified that they worked in the city theater (National Archive. F.4P, vop.47, affairs.4, p. 183). By the way none of them emigrated during the liberation of Belarus.

Certainly, the succession of the pre-war and the modern youth theatres is obvious (without speaking about the general art and pedagogical principles of theaters’ activity). First of all it was the orientation to the national repertoire. M. Kovyazin had an attempt (though unsuccessful one) to perform Yanka Maur’s play “On the storm” («На штурм») even at the unveiling of the theater.  In 1936 was written V. Stashewsky’s play “Mikola Goman” (the play and the performance were highly praised by critics) and M. Zaretsky’s play “Naya”. L. Mazalewskaya encouraged the creation of  Ya. Pasaw’s, A. Gutkovich’s and U. Khazansky’s, A. Volsky’s and P. Macal’s, I. Kozel’s plays (“Paparats-kvetka”  was a theater’s business card for many years. First degree diploma of all-Union festival of youth theatres in 1958). The contemporary theater like the pre-war one under the direction of E. Mirovich in 1937 (after the reform) was opened with the performance “How the steel became tempered” («Як гартавалася сталь») by M. Astrowsky. The already mentioned work “A wonderful pipe” («Цудоўная дудка ») by V. Volsky (in 1939 and 1968) and “The inspector” («Рэвізор ») by N. Gogal (in 1941 a new producer M. Zoraw started his work in the theater with this play, the rehearsals were interrupted by the war, and the modern theater played the comedy in 1960) were played twice. The appointments with the chief theorist and practitioner of the children’s theater Alexander Brantsaw were also held twice. In 1933 M. Kavyazin organized a trip to Leningrad for the group, introduced the actors with A. Brantsaw and his youth theatre; at the all-Union festival contemporary theater group met with A. Brantsaw and in 1972 on the basis of the theater the union “Brantsaw’s readings” were carried out. In the trail of the pre-war youth theater (the participation in the all-Union competition of children's theatres in 1939) stepped also a new theater getting fame and recognition outside the country at the international festivals of theaters for children (since 1958). In the modern theater worked the actors of the pre-war youth theater:  A. Rotar, V. Okalaw, A. Yakutsik, P. Bondaraw, U. Govar-Bandarenka, L. Mikhailaw, U. Stelmach (director), Z. Zyalenka (director assistant), V. Stankevich (head of account department), A. Sagalchyk (head of perfomance).

In 1966 “Narodnaya Asveta” magazine (No. 4) printed U. Stelmakh’s article “A sincere friend of school”: “The Belarusian youth theatre is thirty five years old. It was created at Minsk Kamsamol’s house... and the producer M. Kavyazin was its first art director... In 1941 the war tore off creative activity of the theater. It was renewed only on April 8, 1956 with the performance "How steel became tempered" («Як гартавалася сталь»)

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