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The Taganka emerged in 1964, under the leadership of Yuri Lyubimov, as one of the young theaters reflecting the generational split within the Soviet intelligentsia following the year of protest (1956). A theater of young comrades-in-arms, Taganka believed in its mission: making audiences aware of contemporary moral, political, and social dilemmas. Aesthetically, it revived Meyerhold's tradition. A theater of synthesis, it mobilized various resources: music, dance, pantomime, acrobatics, masks, the shadow-play, and others. Many shows began outside and proceeded through the lobby into the auditorium. The Taganka opened with Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, putting into practice Brecht's own theory of epic theatre. The Taganka's approach to the repertoire was unique: it often produced prose adaptations (A Hero of Our Time, 1964; Master and Margarita, 1977); and poetic montage (Antiworlds, 1965; Listen! Mayakovsky!, 1967). Lyubimov's Taganka, with its brilliant actors, such as Vladimir Vysotsky, Veniamin Smekhov, and Valery Zolotukhin, and no less brilliant designer, David Borovsky, quickly became a cultural landmark. Despite continuous battles with censorship, it was never closed down and was held out to the West to display artistic freedom in the USSR. However, Lyubimov lost his Soviet citizenship in 1984, while in London. The Theater's new leader, Anatoly Efros, a follower of Konstantin Stanislavsky, took it in a different direction. Whereas Lyubimov had developed shows, Efros developed actors. Under perestroika, the Taganka lost its status as gadfly of the society. Lyubimov's return in 1989 did little to reinstate the status. A split within the theater, initiated by N. Gubenko, dealt a serious blow to the Taganka and it never recovered the status that it held before 1984.

See also: perestroika


Beumers, Birgit. (1997). Yury Lyubimov at the Taganka Theatre 19641994. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Gershkovich, Alexander. (1989). The Theater of Yuri Lyubimov: Art and Politics at the Taganka Theatre in Moscow. New York: Paragon House.

Maia Kipp